Testing Ends And New Season Begins Soon For KRT
February 23, 2016
KRT riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes have now completed their final pre-season preparations on the new Ninja ZX-10R after the end of a two-day test session at Phillip Island in Australia – the venue for the first round of the FIM Superbike World Championship, which starts this coming weekend.
It was a highly successful test for both of Kawasaki’s official riders with Sykes fastest of all and Rea second quickest in a field of 25 machines. With ambient temperatures climbing to almost 40°C on the afternoon of the second day some of the fastest single lap times were set on Monday.
Sykes did his best of test 1’31.097 on Monday afternoon. Rea set his personal best, a 1’31.249, on the morning of day two and got close to it once more in this afternoon’s hot temperatures. With new rules allowing each rider to use only one bike at a time, but to have a spare machine ready to go in the event of trouble, Tom and Jonathan spent time making sure that both their bikes are ready for the coming weekend.
The second and final afternoon of action was also complicated by high winds, gusting at times, which pushed the riders down the home straight but made turning for the first sections of the track a complicated affair.
Several red flag incidents for incidents involving other riders interrupted the track action over both days but the KRT pit crews got through their final pre-season preparations in good order. Jonathan, Tom and the entire KRT effort are now ready to face the first two races of the season - the opener on Saturday 27th and the second on Sunday 28th February. WorldSBK races will now run on consecutive days according to the revised 2016 race weekend format.
Tom Sykes stated: “There were a lot of stoppages for red flags over the course of two days but I think we are in a very good situation. We are fast with the cold conditions, warmer conditions, and also with some laps on the tyres. We have finished our two days of testing in a strong way, at a track that has been one of our limits in the past. Everything is definitely heading in the right direction and we have gathered some great information. I am happy to head into the race weekend now having completed a successful test. All we have to do now is get our heads together, have a brief summary of what we have done but on the whole we have made some key changes and put ourselves in a better position for the opening race weekend.”
Jonathan Rea stated: “We got pretty much everything done. It was challenging at times because the red flags came out while we were making a constant effort with some items but in general the two days have been pretty good. We had two different conditions; one cooler one on day one and then one very hot one with really high wind. That wind made getting across from turn two to turn three so difficult. All things considered, we ticked all the boxes we needed to and we managed to do a race simulation this morning. We are ready to go into the race weekend with a package I feel comfortable on. I am just super-excited because even though it is not that long a winter in WorldSBK it feels like forever since the final race of last year in Qatar. I just want to see the lights go out and get stuck in for 22 laps at one of the best circuits in the world.”
Marcel Duinker, Tom Sykes’ Crew Chief, stated: “We did not get all the time we should have had for the many red flag interruptions but we came here with a good base bike from the winter tests. We made some key adjustments for this track and they worked out. Initially Tom showed good speed and also good speed over distance. Now we have two days to analyse all the steps we have made, which we will use on Friday for the first free practice session. Let’s go racing.”
Pere Riba, Jonathan Rea’s Crew Chief, stated: “We tried many different things with engines and chassis in the winter tests and we built our base bike. I guess we did a good job because since the first laps yesterday the base was working well and Jonathan was already there, running at a good pace. Because we have a new bike we still had some points to confirm here. In the end we reached the target. It was good that this morning was a little bit cooler because we made a long run and really understood a lot. In the afternoon, with the very high temperatures, there was less grip in the track - but we were able to ride with a similar lap time that we had with a lower temperature. This means we made a step forward. It seems to be positive and we will keep working.”
Other Kawasaki riders about to have their first taste of 2016 race action include Pedercini Racing pairing Saeed Al Sulaiti from Qatar and Frenchman Sylvain Barrier, plus the lone Go Eleven Ninja ZX-10R rider Roman Ramos. Dominic Schmitter from Switzerland and Aussie rider Josh Hook, in the Grillini Racing Team, complete the regular 2016 Kawasaki line-up but Hook has been ruled out of action for the opening weekend after a crash today in testing, having dislocated and injured his shoulder.