The Kawasaki Racing Team approaches a whole new WSBK season next weekend with a new motorcycle for regular riders Tom Sykes and Joan Lascorz to take on the world with - the Ninja ZX-10R.Over the past two days at the official IMS pre-season tests Joan and Tom lapped the 4.445km Phillip Island circuit along with their fellow WSBK competitors, with the only rider missing being their team-mate Chris Vermeulen. He has been forced to miss the first race to allow his injured knee to heal up fully from restorative surgery.
In the tests themselves, Joan (overall fifth fastest) and Tom (tenth fastest) impressed all who watched the Phillip Island sessions, with the all-new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R clearly well in the mix on the eve of its first ever competitive races. Helping Tom and Joan with their testing duties in Australia was Kawasaki test rider Akira Yanagawa. He was 19th fastest of the 23 riders present at the tests, but will not be racing in place of Chris at round one.
The test sessions, held between 21 and 22 February, were conducted in wet then dry conditions on day one, and dry conditions on day two, allowing all the top riders to better their times today. The best laps came in the morning session for most, including Joan and Tom. Despite each KRT rider falling without injury at the first hairpin in the final session, they will approach the first qualifying sessions on Friday confident in their ability to post quick lap times from the start.The Pedercini Kawasaki Team will field three riders at the forthcoming first round. Regulars Roby Rolfo and Mark Aitchison will be joined by Superstock rider Bryan Staring. All three participated in the recent tests and Staring was 18th quickest, Rolfo 20th and Aitchison 23rd.
The first races of the season take place on Sunday 27 February, with qualifying starting on Friday 25.
Joan Lascorz: “I am really happy with the bike and the team. The transition to riding a Superbike around Phillip Island compared to a Supersport bike has been smooth and steady. Not easy, but we have made progress and set a decent lap time. I had basically the same crash as Tom, at the hairpin. I was pushing only a little bit but we hit the limit and fell. I landed on my right shoulder so I did not hurt the left one, which is still not quite back to full strength. I am fine, no problems. My only question now is having enough power in my upper body to push the bike around the way I want in the races. I do not know what is possible for me on Sunday, because I still have to build up my left shoulder to full strength. We will see how it goes. We just need to work on our strategy for the races now.”
Tom Sykes: “I am glad we did this test. We also explored some new parameters near the end, and we tried a few new things with the set-up. Now we know a lot better what works around here. I also just lost the front very late at the apex of the hairpin, turn four, and fell off. If I had to have a crash then that that was a good corner to crash at, because it is slow and there was no damage to me or to the bike. I’m ready for the new season to start now, and we will use the two days of qualifying coming up to get the bike ready to race on Sunday. I think things will be close on race weekend, maybe too close to call, and I feel that we could certainly be good for consistency. For sheer lap time there are a couple of things holding me back a little now but if we can dial them out we will find a good bit of speed too. We have a couple of days after the tests to relax and work towards race weekend. I am looking forward to riding my new Ninja ZX-10R in races now, after a series of good winter tests.”