Sykes was up to his expected fast pace very early in the test and set a 1’40.5 second lap on a qualifying tyre today, then did a 1’41.6 second lap on a race tyre. There were many riders from different classes at this test, including most of Tom’s main rivals, and Sykes continued his strong pace from previous tests to head the field again.
Young French rider Baz made great improvements once more and although the team opted not to use timing transponders like their main rivals at this test, Baz set a best laps time that would place him in the top six of all the many riders on show. This was a pleasing result as he lost a lot of time in the pit box after he had a crash at turn two midway through the second day and his bike had to be rebuilt.
The first day at the tests was held in changeable and never fully dry conditions. Some heavy spells of rain made sure that the track would stay wet all day, not helped by the lack of sunshine. The track conditions rapidly improved on the second day, held in cold but sunny conditions throughout.
This was the final European test before the Superbike and Supersport riders head to Australia for more tests at Phillip Island, and then round one of the championship at that same circuit on 24 February.
Tom Sykes: “We have to be very happy after this test. Yesterday we had some wet track time and for some people it was maybe not very good but for us it was very valuable. We learned some things yesterday and also today in dry track conditions. Eventually we had decent track conditions and we got up to speed. We were able to test very constructively. Both days have been very valuable and I would like to thank the team and Kawasaki because our test schedule has been very good and all the time we have been moving forward. For this I am happy. This circuit is quite special and for sure it is not our strong point but looking at what is on paper we are not in a bad situation. On a race tyre we did a long run and was able to set a 1’41.7 time after 14 laps with this tyre option. Overall I am happy to have achieved what we have achieved and am looking forward to the next test at Phillip Island.”
Loris Baz: “It was a good test even if we missed two or three hours today after a fall. It was a shame because we had some more things to try but we still made a big step forward and I am happy with what we found. I had a good feeling with the race tyre and also the qualifying tyre. I could not do a good time with soft race tyres at the end because I did three laps on it and each time I found some other rider in front of me. I am sure I could have made a good time and I am not so far from Tom. Also, using a qualifying tyre it was the first time I was able to make a big improvement so I am happy with that because with only three riders on each starting row in 2013, Superpole qualifying is going to be very important. The front end feeling we have now gives me a better way to use the good grip from the rear tyre. I am happy to go to Phillip Island now.”
Crew Chief Sykes, Marcel Duinker: “We made some changes in the suspension of the bike yesterday in the wet and it was not so bad, because last year in similar conditions we struggled in full wet conditions. That is why we were out on track all day on day one, and we managed to find something that was quite simple but it improved our performance. We made some big changes on the bike during this test, some quite fundamental things just to find the direction. This is something you do not do on a race weekend because it is too risky but it worked out here and we found a good direction. We also found some befits from the changes in dry conditions, in both pace and tyre life. We found another step here, like in Jerez and Aragon last year. We only had one dry day but we are on schedule for Australia as we have understood the main points and have improved our bike.”