KRT’s official WorldSBK championship riders Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea played a leading part in a two day test session at Jerez in Spain, between 23rd and 24th January. Sykes set the fastest time of all with Rea just behind in the final rankings.
A return to track testing for the KRT team provided strong results for both official riders in another new era of technical regulation. Sykes set a 1’38.889 lap time that was the best of the test, with Rea posting a 1’39.470 today to ensure a Kawasaki 1-2 in the first major opportunity to compare performance with most of their 2018 WorldSBK rivals.
With a 14,100rpm maximum rev limit imposed on the Ninja ZX-10RR at the start of the 2018 season both riders worked at maximising the potential of their machines’ new enginecharacteristics. They also worked on items and ideas to take into the next test at Portimao in a few days’ time.
Sykes, the 2013 world champion, opted to use a qualifying rear tyre near the end to set his outright best time but he was also fast on a full race tyre set-up. He was pleased with the tyre life his Ninja ZX-10RR delivered, even at the high pace he displayed throughout.
For reigning and three-time champion Rea, after so much time away from his racebike in the winter break, he used this test to get back up to race pace in himself as much as make improvements in his machine set-up.
After this strong showing in Spain the KRT squad will now relocate across the border to Portugal, for another two day test at Portimao between 28th and 29th January.
Tom Sykes, stated: “Of course we used a qualifying tyre to our fastest time but we used it along with an old front tyre. I had a small crash and credit to the boys in the team because they swapped all the suspension and everything into the second bike and I went back out on track to test something else. I was straight back into fantastic lap times. I think even on race tyres we were the fastest but that was not the target. The target was to understand the bike, and I have to say I am very happy with our performance even on very old tyres. Even though the bike is moving in those conditions, the lap time is nice. I am definitely getting my head around how to ride it a little bit better and I have a different mindset this year. I am really looking forward to finishing testing off and heading over to Australia. I feel we are more prepared and ready for action.”
Jonathan Rea, stated: “I started to feel my flow a little bit more today. It is not that I have forgotten how to ride but it feels a little bit strange to be going really fast. But we had a positive day. We managed to confirm a lot of things and get some confidence back. There is still a little bit to work on but I think our pace is pretty good. Today I did not make many laps outside the 1’40s, which is positive. There was not so much to try out but this was more of a set-up test. Really, it was understanding how the bike is working because the track is definitely not in the best shape compared to the November test. So it just required a little bit of a different set-up. For me it was important to do long runs because, as much as it is nice to still be fast, it is more important to get myself race ready.”
Marcel Duinker, Crew Chief for Tom Sykes stated: “Tom finished the test being fastest with a qualifying tyre but was also fast on standard race tyres. That makes us confident. We just continued on from the previous Jerez test in November, where we did 90% of the job over four days. Coming back here we were lucky because the traction level was high in November but quite a lot lower now. So you will find a different bike performance, just because of the different level of traction. But we have just confirmed that this bike, in lower traction conditions, is working well. We did not touch the bike from the set-up side at all. It means we have done a good job in these two days of testing and now we have another test in Portimao where we will just test some remaining parts, and then we will be ready for Phillip Island.”
Pere Riba, Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea, stated: “I am happy with this test. Jonathan did not use a qualifying tyre and even without this he was one of the fastest riders. He did one long run yesterday and two today. This is something he likes to do and it allows us to collect information. Jonathan had two small crashes on day one but the grip level compared to the last test here in November was down. Johnny was not really comfortable yesterday, as you have to set up the bike for the track, and today we improved straight away. He was comfortable, doing a very good job. We did a lot of work at the end of last year so this was a confirmation of different things to prepare for the first race in Australia. We move to Portimao now to keep checking the settings, doing laps and keeping the rider in good shape.”
2018 KRT Rider Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016 & 2017
2018: Races 0, Wins 0, Podiums 0, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 54 (39 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 112 (70 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 14 (10 for Kawasaki)
Tom Sykes: World Champion 2013
2018: Races: 0, Wins 0, Podiums 0, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 33 (33 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 100 (99 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 42 (42 for Kawasaki)
5 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016 & 2017), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
3 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017)
3 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016 & 2017)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 109 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 348 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 73 – second overall