(Words and images - Kawasaki Europe) The official IMS test sessions at Portimao gave Tom Sykes and Joan Lascorz the first chance to measure the progress of the all-new Ninja ZX-10R against its peers, with more than encouraging results.These tests also hosted the official launch of the 2011 World Superbike Championship, with Kawasaki one of seven competing manufacturers again this year. Tom took the opportunity to speak to the assembled media and IMS management about his expectations for a successful season.Despite having only one dry day of track action, after sporadic rains led to ever–changing track conditions on days two and three, Sykes was fourth fastest in the final rankings and only 0.267 seconds from the quickest rider.Like all the riders at Portugal, Tom had hoped for two more dry days to dial the bike into this racetrack and make final preparations before the whole team heads to Australia for the final IMS tests and then the first race of the year, on February 27. His hopes of consistent trck conditions were in vain but the team still managed to get through a good workload and find even more areas to exploit more fully next time out.
Lascorz is not quite back to full fitness after his big crash during the 2010 Supersport World Championship season, but the Superbike rookie was still well in contention with some big names, finishing 10th on the timesheets in a test that featured 16 top quality riders. Joan felt he could have made an even better early impression but was balked by other riders when trying to go for a faster time on day one.To minimise the risk of a fall, Joan elected not to ride in many of the sessions which proved to be not fully wet, nor really dry, but he did ride in a fully wet condition and was pleased with the positive outcome.Tom Sykes: “Overall, not too bad in the dry. We were just two tenths off, which I am not saying is fantastic, but at the end of the day we were doing decent times. In the wet we still have some work to do, but it was still positive in the wet. Overall I am pleased with test if not the weather conditions, but we confirmed the general direction we have been going in with set-up, so we can now go to Phillip Island with more parts that will help us in a few areas. We will do the two official test days in Australia and then we go racing.”
Joan Lascorz: “I only wanted to ride in dry conditions so the first day was a good one to test in, and check how the bike and I were going. The bike was good and I was surprised that I was also good. Not 100% yet, but better. I worked well with Pere and we found a good dry set-up on the first day but I got held up by a couple of other riders when trying to improve my lap time. Looking at my ideal times I could have been about 0.6 seconds better. The Kawasaki team staff have been explaining very clearly to me where I can improve and I really appreciate that. In the wet I did not want to risk things too much, but we made some good laps when it was fully wet. I stopped when the track surface became inconsistent as I really is not want to risk a fall.”