New Look WorldSBK Friday Sees Rea And Sykes Inside The Top Four
February 26, 2016
Official KRT riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes took the all-new Ninja ZX-10R WorldSBK specification machine to third and fourth place respectively in the pre-Superpole qualifying order at the first round of the 2016 FIM Superbike World Championship in Australia.
A successful two day test earlier this week allowed the KRT pairing to start the cycle of practice and qualifying in good form, as part of a new shape WorldSBK weekend schedule.
This year Friday features two one-hour qualifying sessions, which determine the riders who will go forward to Superpole 1 and then Superpole 2 on Saturday, where they will ride to earn final grid positions. Thereafter, there will be the first race of the year on Saturday afternoon and the second on Sunday.
Defending champion Rea, who set a 1’31.324 lap this afternoon, will now compete directly in the second Superpole contest to determine his final grid position for the two 22- lap races.
Sykes delivered a 1’31.363 lap today, putting him just one place and 0.039 seconds behind his team-mate in what was a positive first competitive outing all round for the 2016 Ninja ZX-10R.
Overnight the riders and KRT’s technical staff will have two scenarios to prepare for. One is the quick lap of Superpole qualifying, and then the first full WorldSBK race itself, with full points on offer.
Jonathan Rea stated: “I am really happy to get the first race weekend of the year started. We have been lucky because having a test here earlier in the week means we already have a good base. Pere and Paolo and all the guys have worked really hard in the test to analyse many things and we arrived here today with a good starting point. We are fine-tuning now. The track temperatures today were a lot lower than during the tests so the race simulation we made in the afternoon was a little bit faster. Pirelli has also brought a new race tyre and they asked me to make a run on it. It has good potential and we will check it again in the cooler conditions. I am quite happy to go into Superpole tomorrow with a bike that is comfortable to ride. The new system in practice is OK, just fine, and I was always looking to race on Saturday, because the guys normally make a good set up and we can be quite quick. I am excited to wake up tomorrow for the first race of the year.”
Tom Sykes stated: “We had a couple of things we wanted to confirm today and now we can put our best package together and be happy to go into Saturday. We did not end the day with a long run like we wanted but in terms of everything else we have a good understanding. The new weekend format is relatively OK. The day has finished quite early so we have all afternoon now to put our heads together and I think we can box the job off. Tomorrow will be a busy day with Superpole and the first race on the same day but even in testing we understood we had a very good set-up. Now we will go back to basics and focus our attention on Superpole 2 and the first race.”
For the other Kawasaki runners, Roman Ramos (GO Eleven Kawasaki) will line up for Superpole 1 on Saturday in 12th place, with Sylvain Barrier (Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) 16th. Stand-in rider for the injured Josh Hook, Toprak Razgatlioglu, (Grillini Racing Team Kawasaki) was 19th from the 24 riders at PI. Grillini Kawasaki rider Dominic Schmitter and Pedercini Racing Kawasaki runner Saeed Al Sulaiti finished 21st and 22nd respectively after the first two qualifying sessions.