Kawasaki Racing Team riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes set a strong testing pace in a series of track outings at Jerez, sharing track time with numerous rival WorldSBK teams plus many top MotoGP competitors. Rea and Sykes were the fastest two WorldSBK riders on show over the test, and well inside the top echelons of the MotoGP lap times.
The Ninja ZX-10RR gave a good account of itself at Jerez in the final winter test of the 2017 calendar year, with Jonathan Rea setting a personal best of 1’37.986 and Tom Sykes 1’38.326, each on qualifying rear tyres. On a race tyre set-up Rea did a 1’38.8, on a harder rear tyre option on Friday morning, with Sykes setting a race tyre best of 1’39.3 earlier in the week.
The existing Jerez WorldSBK lap record, which was set recently in a race, stands at 1’40.640. T he pole record, set on qualifying tyres, is currently 1’38.960.
The pace of Rea and Sykes was all the more impressive as they were using the 14,100rpm maximum rev limit imposed on the Ninja ZX-10RR by the 2017 technical regulations.
Rea rode for three days in all; Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He went back to the UK to collect his Member of the British Empire award (MBE) on Tuesday. He suffered a very fast fall on Wednesday but went out on track soon after on his spare bike to go just as fast as he had before.
Sykes rode for four days out of five and found improvements in overall race pace all the way to the end of the final test before the off-season begins.
The first winter test now completed, the next track action for the KRT squad will take place at Jerez once again, between 23rd and 24th January 2018.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing team Rider): “This test is rea lly important for us and it is always held at a good time of year. The weather has been consistent so we have been really lucky. There is a lot of rubber down on the track so we were able to evaluate all the components we had to test and we ticked everything in the box. We had to confirm chassis components and a swingarm, and we worked a lot with Showa suspension on Wednesday. When we had everything boxed off we were able to test some new tyres from Pirelli. We also used this test to try out a qualifying tyre and to see our true potential over one lap. I was surprised to be so fast and go into the 1’37s. Good results do not just happen; it has been a lot of hard work. I am very proud of the team as they understood the regulation changes and they started working towards that behind the scenes for some time. We were able to hit the ground running when we came here on Monday. The new engine character we have built is really good for my riding style. The way the power is on th e bike, I feel a lot more connection.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “I am really happy with the way the tests have gone. That put a bit of a smile on my face and a spring in my step for the winter. I could honestly not have asked for any more. A big thanks to all the boys, they prepared two top-level bikes which made the testing much more efficient and I have to say I am very pleasantly surprised with my performance on race tyres. We tried a Q tyre, but it was in a bike with a slightly different set-up and chassis package. Since using that Q tyre we have improved the bike again and am very happy about this. It is a good way to go into the winter.”
Pere Riba (Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea): “It was interesting to test different parts, matching in with next year’s technical rules. We concentrated to test engine character for next year and some parts in the engine. Some of them were very positive. We understand that we will miss some power in the top, as we will have a reduction in our maximum revs. This means that somewhere you have to lose, and then compensate in some other areas. So if you want to make up some time you have to improve the braking areas, or corner speed, or in some other areas. We did not set-up the bike with clicks, geometry or whatever. All three days we kept the same chassis settings, but we just tested different items on the bike. From the January tests onwards we will start to test with the tools we have to make the final set-up of the bike. So far the race pace was very good and on a qualifying tyre we were crazy fast. So all very positive.”
Marcel Duinker (Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea): “We had a very good test. We went back in time a little bit, from a set-up point of view. In the past couple of months Tom and I have been analysing what we have been doing in the last couple of years with set-up. Everybody knows we have been fast in the past, faster than w hat we can show compared to our current competition, and from day one it has worked. Of course this bike is not the same as the one from before be we have used all the knowledge we have gained in recent years, and brought the current bike and our set-up history together to move to the next point. Tom has shown a good initial lap time but, especially over a number of laps, he was impressively fast.”