Round 3 - Race 1 (Saturday 2nd April 2016)
The first of two FIM Superbike World Championship races at Motorland Aragon over the weekend saw official Kawasaki Racing Team (KRT) riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes go second and third respectively, after 18-laps around the impressive 5.077km circuit.
Having taken pole position, Sykes led for the first three laps but was passed by eventual race winner Chaz Davies, and then fellow Kawasaki rider Rea, who would then hold onto second place.
Rea had evaluated some new set-ups on Friday but went back to a more conventional setting for the day, using Superpole to make his final selections for the first race itself. After finding feel and feedback in the early laps he moved forward to his eventual second place result and finished 4.168 seconds from the win.
Sykes found early pace but could not hold onto the leading two as they passed, with Tom finishing only a fraction of a second from Jonathan but unable to push to challenge for second in the final laps. Sykes was 4.948 seconds from victory after 91.386 kilometres of hard racing.
With only 15°C air temperatures and 30°C track temperatures the race was held in dry conditions throughout.
This fifth race of the season delivered podium finish number five for Rea, who has not finished lower than second so far. It was three podiums in a row for Sykes, who has now taken a second, a win and a third place.
JONATHAN REA Kawasaki Racing Team): “I am satisfied because if you cannot win you should finish second. Today we did that at a track that has been really strong for Chaz in the past. In the beginning of the race I was still understanding the bike because the first time we had used our complete race set-up was in Superpole. I was learning in the early laps. This morning we went back to more like what we had before. Now we need a bit more grip and to improve things under braking for tomorrow. We can go back and understand my rhythm now and take things from there to make the bike even better. I know we can be closer tomorrow.”
TOM SYKES (Kawasaki Racing Team): “I knew that one fast lap was easy from earlier in the day but I knew the race pace may be difficult. I was suffering a little bit with the balance, as it is not quite letting me do what I wanted to do. That means when the tyre drops I cannot keep the level I want to. I am also happy to be on the podium and we are blessed to still be able to do that even when it is not our best day. I just did not have enough to be able to close and make a pass on Jonathan at the end so that is something we need to work on but both Kawasakis seemed to be at a very similar level. We need to be stronger tomorrow and work hard again.”
Round 3 - Race 2 (Saturday 3rd April 2016)
From pole position Sykes attacked the lead of race two and held his strong pace even after eventual race winner Chaz Davies had passed him on the second lap. After Rea overtook his team-mate, Sykes continued to follow close behind. He was thus in a perfect position to take advantage when Jonathan ran wide and lost time and track position.
Tom managed his second place to the end and secured 20 points. He finished the Motorland Aragon weekend with two podium finishes to his credit.
Rea was pushing hard throughout race two but was forced wide on lap 15. After taking to the run-off area and rejoining he could not regain ground on his team-mate.
Set-up changes from day one to day two did not have the full desired effect and grip issues did not help his cause in the final result of the second race of the weekend. Rea and Sykes scored identical points totals at Motorland Aragon, with a second and third place finish apiece.
In the current championship rankings Jonathan still enjoys a clear lead, some 26 points ahead of Davies. Sykes, in third, is 29 points from Jonathan and only three points behind Motorland double race winner Davies after three rounds and six races have been completed.
TOM SYKES (Kawasaki Racing Team): “In terms of race position it was an improvement on yesterday and that is what we need to focus on. I think the gap to the front is bigger than it should be but it looks like yesterday, after the information we took from race one, our rear tyre was not performing to its best and today we did not have as much spin. We have more information now and I hope we can use this to our advantage. My guys are fantastic and I am lucky to have them but we could not close the gap to the win compared to yesterday. We cannot be downbeat because sometimes it happens that you have a circuit that is great for a certain package and Chaz is always on form here. We will come back in Assen and try to be stronger again.”
JONATHAN REA (Kawasaki Racing Team): “It was a difficult race because straight from the off we did not have so much grip in the rear and I was having to pick the bike up. When I back-shifted going into turn one with a few laps to go the rear locked and I could not stop, that was end of the chance to fight for 2º today. Being second or third today is not the issue it is being so far from the fight for the front. There were some areas where we were struggling today. We just need more time with the new bike and it is a step-by-step process. When a tough weekend is second and third it is not so bad!”
2016 Superbike World Championship Leaderboard after Round 3:
|4.||M. VAN DER MARK||74|
The next round is at Assen in the Netherlands, with races on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th April.