The official Kawasaki Racing Team pairing of Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea completed their last winter tests of the current year today at Jerez de la Frontera in Spain, having ridden their Ninja ZX-10Rs in a wide variety of weather and track conditions.
New technical rules come into play for 2015 in the FIM Superbike World Championship and the tests at Jerez concentrated on optimising a variety of new settings and components that were first tried at the recent Motorland Aragon tests.
The original plan for the tests at Jerez was to run for the first two days, sit out Wednesday 26th, and then complete the tests with two more full days yesterday and today. With occasionally torrential wet weather arriving at times, especially on Thursday 27th, and the best weather coming along on Wednesday, that plan had to be modified and the team fielded both riders at some points on each and every day.
In total there was only one and a half days of useable dry track time at Jerez. Having had some issues in wet conditions in the recent past both sides of the KRT garage made use of track conditions that were frequently fully wet to make improvements in machine set-up.
On the dry Wednesday afternoon Rea set a 1’40.738 lap time, Sykes a 1’40.853 on Tuesday’s dry track surface, with both riders running timing transponders at this test, which was conducted alongside many of their 2015 rivals. Sykes and then Rea were fastest of the pairings that ran transponders in the fully wet conditions on Thursday, when Tom did a 1’52.206 and Rea a 1’52.638.
Jerez proved to be the backdrop for the final winter test session of 2014, with two more Spanish track sessions scheduled in January, and one final official test in Australia, before the first round of the new season on Sunday 22 February, at Phillip Island. The next track outing for the team will therefore be at Motorland Aragon on 19 and 20 January.
Tom Sykes: “We have worked on a long list of things we had to try. It has been a five-day test but unfortunately on day two I have come down with some virus, which hasn’t helped the job. But we have done a lot of dry laps and understood what we needed to improve and where to go in the future. In the dry we did not get to show our full potential but in the wet I was happy. We have really struggled in the past in the wet and this was the first time I was able to what I wanted to do with the Ninja ZX-10R in those conditions. For sure we are not on the perfect set-up yet but we are going in the right direction, because I went faster at this track than ever before in full wet conditions. We did a lot of practice starts as well, to evaluate some material for next year. In general it has been a very constructive test and one that has put us on the right path for continuing testing in 2015.”
Marcel Duinker, Tom Sykes’ Crew Chief said: “In the recent Aragon tests we had limited track time and we went through the most important changes for the regulations there, so we did the same here. On Monday and Tuesday we were a bit interrupted by the wet track but in the afternoon we could test. Wednesday was a nice day and we went through the complete test programme. We have managed to find an acceptable base that we can take to other tracks, because we found similar results carrying on from Aragon to here. Last year we were not able to find an optimum wet set-up but yesterday we found a key improvement in our wet weather testing performance and I am happy for that.”
Pere Riba, Jonathan Rea’s Crew Chief said: “We started our programme recently in Motorland and we have a new rider and new rules this year. In Motorland we started to look to Jonathan’s riding style his position on the bike and things like that. Here we kept going and tried out many different items. This week it has been raining but we had one and a half days of dry weather and we could follow the plan for the items we have to test. We received a lot of information on the setup of the bike just to understand which ones to keep going with. This track is more about handling than engine. We also worked a lot on the gearbox because this year you have only one choice of ratios. In the wet weather Jonathan took the bike, made some small adjustments and was very positive about it. Overall, I am really pleased with our tests.”
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