Kawasaki Racing Team pairing Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea concluded their final European-based winter tests on the Ninja ZX-10RR at Jerez de la Frontera in Spain, sharing the track with some of their 2017 rivals.
Experiencing mixed weather conditions at the tests Rea confidently topped the times with his day one best lap, with Sykes posting the second fastest lap as he worked through set-up and component options.
With a wet track on the morning of the first day of testing Tom and Jonathan got down to serious work that afternoon as the asphalt dried out. Rea also tried out some new race and multi-lap qualifying tyre options supplied by Pirelli. He set an impressive 1’39.248 lap time but Wednesday would be his final pre-season dry track session in Europe as the rains returned on day two. Rea, the champion in 2015 and 2016 for Kawasaki celebrated his 30th birthday on 2nd Feb and was again fastest of all, even in wet conditions.
Sykes, working on modifications to his 2017 machine in readiness for the first round of the year in Australia (to be held between 24th and 26th February) used all of the dry and much of the wet track conditions to narrow down his set-up and component options. Not reverting to testing new race or qualifying tyres, the 2013 world champion set his best lap of 1’40.930 in the dry part of Wednesday afternoon. He was also second quickest in the wet of Thursday.
The highly anticipated official KRT launch in Spain on 9th Feb and then the series organisers’ pre-season tests at Phillip Island, between 20th and 21st February, are all that remain between the KRT squad and the first round of the year. Once again races will be held over two days for the WorldSBK class, meaning the first podium places of the year being competed for on Saturday 25th February.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “The test was really positive. On the first day we waited for the track to dry and then we got some valuable track time. We maximised that by testing different suspension set ups, with the 2016 fork as the base, to try out some ideas. We confirmed the best chassis and suspension set up that we will start the year with and we worked with some engine components and clutches, to understand what my preference is. We practiced starts and found something that was good for me. Pirelli also brought some development tyres to try, which we gave some time to. We crossed a few things off our list and back-to-backed a few things. We were also trying to look for some performance, a bit of lap time and we did that on Wednesday. We are getting ready now for Phillip Island.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “On day one we started strongly and then very quickly moved on to try out many different test items an d machine setup changes. We knew where we were with the base of the bike and we then used a lot of time on track to ensure we will arrive in Phillip Island with a lot less options to evaluate. We still have some small work to do in the Australian tests but because of what we did yesterday we were able to go through a lot of items. Today, in the wet, we built up speed, gradually made some small changes and ended up fairly close to where we needed to be. We found out a lot of information. We now have a cleaner slate to make our preparations for the first race. For Phillip Island we need to start being more focused on performance.”
Pere Riba (Jonathan Rea's Crew Chief): “The last European test before the season starts was very positive and we could work in wet conditions too, which was good. We tested all the final items we had in the list. After the Australian test we can analyze, 100%, how we will make the base of the bike for the first round. It was v ery positive because we got to test everything and understood all the items we wanted to. Also, Jonathan was really, really fast even though the grip level of the track was not the same as the Jerez tests last week, and especially the tests here in November. He was fast on race tyres and he was also able to make a very good lap time on the new soft qualifying tyre from Pirelli. We are really looking forward to going to Australia for the last test and then the first event.”
Marcel Duinker (Tom Sykes Crew Chief): “Our target was to test some remaining items on our list, which we could not do last time because of some interruptions from the weather. We also had some weather changes at this test but on he first day we made a clear selection of some vital chassis components. The most important things have been done in the past two tests and we have an acceptable speed. We have now reached a point where we have to go and test at another track. Jerez is a go od test venue but we have to go to Phillip Island now to work on a different track layout. Our winter tests in Spain have been positive and now we are getting close to the start of the season.”