Sykes In The Top Four At Final Pre-Season Test

February 20, 2013

Tom Sykes and Loris Baz took their Ninja ZX-10R machines to fourth and 15th positions in the
official pre-season tests at Phillip Island, with Sykes riding with a cracked bone in his left wrist.

Sykes was back to his best today and although he spent much of his time concentrating on machine and tyre set-up for the forthcoming race on Sunday 24th February he was still fourth fastest, a positive result given that most of his rivals have had much more track time in the past few days than Tom.

Baz was rebuilding confidence after a fall in previous tests in Australia, and got much of his feel for the machine back in the final session today.

Blistering temperatures in the first day of these official tests in Australia were replaced by morning spots of rain early today and then a cooler but dry final afternoon session.

Sykes set a best lap of 1’31.261 seconds, good enough for fourth in the rankings in a field of 20 riders. Baz, easing himself back up to full speed was 15th, setting a best lap of 1’32.625 seconds. He was happy with his bike set-up and the feedback he has found when riding, particularly in the final half hour on track.

With new flag-to-flag rules in 2013 SBK races the team have been practising quick wheel changes in case of rain, using specially constructed stands and other parts to help then save time should they ever have to make a mid-race wheel change.

Kawasaki Pedercini Team riders, Federico Sandi and Alex Lundh were 18th and 19th respectively and are now ready to go for the first race weekend of 2013.

Tom Sykes: “I definitely used my injured arm a lot today because it has been sleeping. My crew chief has been doing a good job of waking it up. I know that the wrist has been knocked about and you can tell there is a crack in it, likewise the ribs are pretty sore, but I have every confidence in Kawasaki and all of the team. Big thanks to my crew chief Marcel and my team manager Guim because they made a very important call to make on Thursday after the accident. We have started to regroup now and be where we need to be. There is still work to be done but with six hours track time the boys have done a fantastic job, one that has made my life easier. I can get on and ride the bike and I am enjoying it. I had been a little bit tense due to the circuit catching me out a few days ago, but I finished well, with a lot of information. I am fortunate to have some clever people working with me and we have made up for lost ground. We did a lot of laps yesterday and felt OK when I woke up this morning.”

Loris Baz: “It was not so easy at the beginning of this test because I crashed in the previous one and it was not easy to get my confidence back, so I was riding really under the limit. It is really important to be free with the bike and let it go in the corners. Then we managed to find something, more with me then the bike I think, and we improved a lot. That was really positive. I think we are going to be OK and even improve again on Friday.”

Crew Chief Sykes, Marcel Duinker: “We had a list of things to confirm here and we had to prioritise them because we had reduced track time. We focused on a couple of things in these hours of testing and what we tried worked out, so it looks like we have improved our bike quite a lot for this racetrack, which is quite a special one. I think we only need to fine-tune the set-up on the Friday and Saturday of race weekend.”

Crew Chief Baz, Pere Riba: “It was not so easy for Loris to get back his confidence in these two days of testing after a big crash recently, but this afternoon I am happy because it looks like he is back again as a rider. At this track the full race distance is very, very important. The best lap times we have seen are done in one lap and Loris does not yet have the experience to get the best out of the bike for just one lap. But he can keep very consistent fast pace. If keeps building himself up in confidence then I am happy. Things were better today and we will be OK.”

Guim Roda, Team Manager: “We have seen Tom at a very good level today and he has concentrated on finding the way for the race rather than just go for fast laps. He is clear that one of the goals for this year is to be consistent in pace all through the race and for Loris the idea is to keep him learning, because the last two crashes he had were when he was pushing the limit. We prefer to go one step back and understand the limits and then grow up in a safe way. These two days have been very interesting and we are ready to go for race weekend.”