The first day of WorldSBK qualifying at Laguna Seca ended in rewarding fashion for KRT Riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes, as they finished the three Friday practice sessions first and third in the timesheets, easing their way directly into Superpole 2 on Saturday.
At the popular and fan-friendly Laguna Seca circuit in the USA KRT’s championship challengers Rea and Sykes took part in the now established three 40-minute Friday practice sessions, with Rea fastest despite a late fall and Sykes third quickest in a field of 20 riders.
Both KRT riders set their best Friday times in FP2, with Rea sliding off while pushing the boundaries of his set-up after completing 11-laps in FP3.
Sykes used FP3 to try out some alternative settings in readiness for Superpole and race one on Saturday, while still setting fast lap times to the very end.
With windy conditions at times blowing sand onto the 3.610km long track surface this afternoon, Laguna proved as much of a satisfying challenge as ever, but a challenge that both KRT Riders rose to meet with a 1-3 finish to free practice.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was 13th after the three sessions on the opening day but only 1.073 seconds from Rea on his first visit to Laguna Seca.
Argentinean Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) was 16th today, Roman Ramos (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) placed 17th and Yonny Hernandez (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) 20th.
A short FP4 session and then Superpole 1 and 2 will take place on Saturday morning, before race one starts at 14.00, local time in California.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “From the first session we have been fast but we have been changing the bike to make it better and better. Now our consistency and speed are good. This is a track that has struggled with grip but it seems our base set-up is finding grip. It is just a shame to go to sleep tonight on a crash but my rhythm has been stronger than everyone today so I feel like we have some margin to just come back now and find the limit. I had a lot of feedback from the bike and I was finding the limit really – and I found it. I arrived a little bit faster than my fastest lap. I was in a run where I was very consistent and fast even at the end, so I was just pushing the boundaries.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “We had a fairly good set-up in FP2, and in FP3 we just experimented in a couple of directions, with a few different little variables. I am happy enough, really. We did not improve our lap time in FP3 but to be honest the track was not in great condition. In the windy conditions this afternoon I followed a couple of guys exiting the pits and you could see, slightly off line, there was a lot of sand. I am happy with what we have done and tomorrow we will try to put it all together. In the morning session tomorrow we have a couple things to try and hopefully we can give them a little whirl.”
2018 KRT Rider Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016 & 2017
2018: Races 14, Wins 6, Podiums 11, Superpoles 2
Career Race Wins: 60 (45 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 123 (81 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 16 (12 for Kawasaki)
Tom Sykes: World Champion 2013
2018: Races: 14, Wins 1, Podiums 6, Superpoles 3
Career Race Wins: 34 (34 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 106 (105 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 45 (45 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: 116 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 366 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 78 – second overall