Like many of his fellow SBK riders, Sykes had tested at PI last week, and used that knowledge to help set fast lap times and set them with a high degree of consistency at this test, in cool or hot track conditions. In the final analysis of the time sheets, Sykes set the leading 1’31.648 lap time in the morning session today to stay above Carlos Checa and Jakub Smrz in the rankings.
Joan Lascorz was happy with his race pace on the second official Kawasaki Racing Team Ninja ZX-10R and in setting a personal best of test 1’32.540 lap time he was 11th out of 23 riders on show. The Spanish star is confident he can improve on that when the racing starts for real on Sunday 26th February.
Local star and regular Pedercini Superstock force Bryan Staring rode the other Pedercini Kawasaki Superbike in these tests, as he will in replacing the injured Leandro Mercado for the opening race weekend itself. He finished 20th on the timesheets but knows more is to come in true race trim.
Kenan Sofuoglu, riding for Kawasaki in WSS for the first time this season, was second quickest after two days of intense track action at Phillip Island in Australia, while sharing track space with the entire field of 2012 riders. Sofuoglu feels confident that he can shoot for the race win even at the first weekend of the season and he is not the only seasoned campaigner in this class to show strong form even before the first points come up for grabs.
Kawasaki Intermoto Step rider Fabien Foret was third quickest overall while DeltaFin Kawasaki rider Sheridan Morais took some time to learn the secrets of a circuit he had never seen before these tests, and he finally jumped up to an impressive seventh. Kawasaki Team GOELEVEN rider Joshua Day was 20th in the combined times in his rookie WSS test, while Foret's team-mate Romain Lanusse was 23rd.
Now all the competitors look to the opening race of the season, on Sunday 26th February, as the
first chance to score points in what is shaping up to be a closely contested championship, with Kawasaki riders looking set to be fighting up front once again.
Tom Sykes: “We were fast this morning and also this afternoon in hot conditions and we even improved our time compared to yesterday’s hot track conditions. Overall we did quite a bit more testing today and certainly stumbled across a couple of good things. At the end of the sessions we did 14 laps on race tyres and it was very consistent, with the times coming easier than they were doing with previous settings.
Honestly speaking, this is not one of my favourite circuits, in fact it is one of my least favourite ones, so I am happy that we are towards the front at this track because I know that the performance should increase at the other circuits. I do not want to get too carried away because I like to keep my feet on the ground, so we’ll keep working and see what happens on race weekend.”
Joan Lascorz: “We have a good rhythm but to do faster single laps is a little more difficult. I can put in a new tyre but lap times are the same. I think it is a lot of things together, but every time we try anything else we come back to the same kind of settings. The bike works best in small, slower corners, in the fast corners and over the bumps it feels very hard. It turns very well in the slower corners but the line in the fast corners is critical. The plan for the first practice in Friday is more gas! But seriously, we will make a plan to find out the best settings for race weekend.”
Bryan Staring: “I am happy with it in general but I wanted to put in a bit better lap time. Some of the guys have been here testing for three days last week but I was not. The real important day is next Friday. I am happy with the motorbike but we can still improve a couple of small things. It is only on the one flying lap that I have not been able to do so well, but we put in a reasonable time. I think we are in a bit better position than the timesheets suggest. It is a good motorbike and I think we can do a pretty good job with it, I just hope to get a strong lap time out of it on Friday.”
Kenan Sofuoglu: “It was very good at this test because until this morning I tried many different set-ups and rear shocks, maybe six or seventh different ones, so on the last run we put all the best stuff together in the last half an hour and I gained about seven tenths. That took me to the top of the time sheets right away. Another rider came along and went a little faster but it does not matter as these tests were only about being ready for the race weekend. The bike has the potential to win the race and I have the potential to win the race and I am very hungry to win again. For one and half years I have not won a Supersport race so now it is time to win again.”