The 5.077km long Motorland Aragon circuit hosted a two-day test session for the official Kawasaki Racing Team and its riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes, with Rea going fastest and Sykes the second rider on the unofficial timesheets.
Held between 16 and 17 November the test was the most significant yet as the team started to make the transition between the official 2016 machine and the new for 2017 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR. With a new Ninja to race winter testing will take on a whole new level of importance from now until the first round of the new season, to be held in Australia in February.
Rea, who set fewer laps on day one than on day two, left Motorland with the fastest lap time of all. His 1’49.8, which is relatively close to the track best, was well under the official race lap record of 1’50.421.
Sykes put in 150 laps of Motorland over two days. While using harder SC1 tyres he set a best of 1’50.4, which was the second fastest time of the test and almost exactly on lap record pace. After working with some new engine specifications Sykes moved on to work on his chassis and suspension, all the while with a race set-up on his Ninja.
With a stated aim of going 1-2 in the championship again in 2017 the KRT squad has made a very strong first real step into a future that again promises much for riders, team and Kawasaki as a manufacturer.
Next up for all in the team is another Spanish test, this time at Jerez de la Frontera, starting on 21 November. Four days of track action are planned in all.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “The base bike was working quite well here and the track was in quite good condition on both days. We lost a bit of time on day one but on the second day we got really stuck into our test plan. Kawasaki has been working hard on the engine side and we had some upgrades on the chassis, which were positive. Showa have been working well and brought a new shock and forks to try. We are pretty happy and we can continue our work on the suspension side in Jerez next week. On the engine side we have been much more consistent than we have ever been here with race tyres. We were able to do a lot of laps today and it was a very encouraging test.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “We have had two bikes in the garage at this test to try and use the time more efficiently, so we are relatively happy. On hard tyres we have good showing on initial performance and over race distance, so I am pleased. We have been working a lot with the chassis and trying to find a better balance. We have gone absolutely everywhere with the chassis settings as we obviously cannot do that during a race weekend. We have been working to the new 2017 technical rules and overall we have had quite a few little tweaks to the gearbox, clutch, suspension, electronics and chassis. Thanks to the boys in the team and Kawasaki as they have been working so hard. They have hardly put their spanners down.”
Pere Riba, Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea, stated: “Step-by-step we have been working well and at the end of day one Jonathan had a good feeling, with quite a lot of laps already on the tyres. He was still doing the lap times, so that was positive. On day two we kept working to understand the new development and follow the testing plan. We reached nearly all the parts we wanted to test. We focused more on the chassis side and the suspension, as we had some new items to test. Jonathan was riding fast, riding really well, and this makes it easier to understand all the test items. We have been working strongly with the four Japanese staff that were at Motorland. We collected a lot of information and at the same time Jonathan was the fastest rider. Now comes the work to analyse everything to prepare for the next test at Jerez.”
Marcel Duinker, Crew Chief for Tom Sykes, stated: “We only used the SC1 race tyre for both days as it gave us stable performance over 25 laps and our pace was strong with it. The track conditions were also good and the track was clean and consistent, so it provided a high level of grip. We tried mostly chassis and suspension components to suit the new engine character we will have next year. We have reached the targets we set ourselves for this test. Before we started we set a target for lap time and consistency and we have gone even better. I think Tom did around 150 laps over the two days so we worked on a lot of things and took our time over the new items.”