Kawasaki WorldSBK riders Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea run MotoGP pace on final day of Jerez WorldSBK Test
Once again, conditions were good in Jerez de la Frontera, confirming just why teams and riders head so frequently to the south of Spain for their off-season running.
The 2015 Jerez WorldSBK pole position time was severely undercut during testing this week as Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea fitted Superpole tyres to their 2016 Kawasaki ZX-10R bikes.
On what was the fifth and final day of this week’s test in Jerez, the Kawasaki Racing Team riders both delivered stunning lap times, as a 1’39.313 for Sykes and 1’39.524 for Rea blew this year’s pole position time of 1’40.292 (Sykes) swiftly into the weeds. However, Rea’s day ended at approximately 3pm when he crashed at the final corner.
MotoGP machines were also sharing the track with the WorldSBK riders at Jerez and on the final day only three of the nine MotoGP riders in attendance managed to go quicker than Sykes on the WorldSBK ZX-10R. Scott Redding was credited with a 1m38.9 on the Pramac Ducati MotoGP machine while Marc Marquez carded a 1m39.17 and Danilo Petrucci a 1m39.20.
Tom Sykes stated – “We did a great time on a race tyre and also on a qualifying tyre. We have been fast on both of those over this week, so I am happy with that, but the big picture was working for race distance. Even this afternoon the track felt in bad condition compared to Monday and Tuesday, yet we have still improved our performance on used tyres. We still set some good lap times even after 22 laps. This was the most rewarding thing for me because this is something we have struggled with this year. If we can keep working in this way, with this mentality for the tests in January, then this is all we can ask for. It has been great so a real big credit to the mechanics because we had a few offs at the beginning of the week and they had to work hard. With the amount of changes they have made to the settings they have not stopped. Thanks to Marcel and Danilo for doing a good test plan and giving me what we need.”
Marcel Duinker, Tom Sykes’ Crew Chief – “Tom had two very little crashes on Monday and a little bit bigger one on Tuesday but that is part of the job. Really, it has been a very good test because we have done all the items over short and long distance. We have made three race simulations over the three days and every time we did one the pace was better. We have done 345 laps over these four days. We tested a qualifying tyre today and we had a very good result with that. He feels the bike well over one lap but more than well over race distance. We have achieved our goals and we can enter our six week break with a happy face and concentrate then on the first January test.”
Jonathan Rea – “All in all I am really happy because we have done lots of race simulations and tests already in November, which for me is unheard of. We used a Q tyre today, which was really good. It opened my eyes a little bit to where we can improve the set-up of our new bike a bit further. For the rest, pretty much until yesterday, we had finalised the main items to test. So today went back to a front set-up and confirmed some things with that. Everything was going OK and I was making runs on race tyres. I’m sure I could improve my lap time today, but I’m really happy with the job. The bike seems to be working already as a good base and I am happy to finish the test healthy and enjoy the break until we resume again in January.”
Pere Riba, Jonathan Rea’s Crew Chief – “The 2016 bike is a positive step because it is much faster. We have to keep working and understanding the bike, but we are really happy. Johnny crashed two times over the test pushing the limits of the bike and we understand very well. It is good to have this chance now than in the season. We have already made some race simulations and we used one qualifier to understand where we are with those tyres. With that we did a 1’39.5 on that and with a race tyre we did a 1’40.1. We have collected a lot of information and now we will study and understand it all for the next tests.”
Guim Roda, KRT Team Manager – “We finish today as the last one on track for the 2015 season. It is not the last day of the 2016 Winter Tests as we will continue in 26th and 27th of January in Jerez again. We improved the areas we needed to focus on, comparing with last year’s performance, and we succeeded. The new base roadgoing model Ninja ZX-10R is really a big step forward. Johnny and Tom made, of course, a fantastic job. They even worked too to find the limits of the bike, to understand the areas they cannot cross into on a race weekend. I’m sure with all the information we got from these days everybody will work hard to prepare the items we need to start the 2016 season in Australia. The overall idea in the next tests will be to confirm all the inputs and data to set the performance for race one in Australia. Thanks again to Kawasaki, ELF, Motocard, Monster, Akrapovic, Bubel, MRA – and all the sponsors, suppliers, fans and everybody who is pushing us every weekend to improve our performance. And the very last thanks to Tom and Johnny for their pure spirit to push the limits every lap corner and every lap they ride with the KRT Ninja ZX-10R WorldSBK bike. See you in 2016.”
Nicky Hayden made the most of the warm and sunny conditions to continue his familiarisation with the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP. The 34-year-old put in a remarkable total of 250 laps around the 4.423km (2.748 mile) Spanish track over the course of the three days as he worked tirelessly with the team on various aspects of the bike. The 34-year-old American evaluated new swingarms and tried different geometries, gearing, front fork and rear damper settings. In the afternoon of the final day, Hayden got a successful first taste of Pirelli’s qualifying tyres, clocking in with a 1’40.193 lap time.
Nicky Hayden – “We really must be thankful for the weather because, apart from temperatures a bit chilly in the morning, we had really great weather for three days; we needed it after missing so much time at MotorLand Aragon. We worked a lot in pretty much every area, because it’s still early days. We tested a lot of things and the team worked extremely hard over the three days changing wheelbase, gearing and more. They did a huge amount of work. Overall we take some positives out of this test. I had great fun on the qualifying tyre today and I was told my time would have been enough to be on pole position here two months ago. It’s clear that everybody has made a big step forward already so we still have a lot of work to do. But I’m happy and looking forward to everything, let’s see if we can keep going this way.”
Pieter Breddels – Honda Technical manager “With Nicky everything went smooth, we did a lot of laps and went through a lot of things. I think we’ve made a good step forward. Today we tried some qualifying tyres and the lap-time Nicky was able to set is promising. All the big teams were testing here so this has been a good benchmark for us and we’re very happy with how it went. We can now enter the winter break in a positive mood and we will keep working hard in order to be ready for the next test in January, when we will try new items and especially a new engine upgrade, which will soon be available to us.”
The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team was complete once more with Davide Giugliano making his return after a four-month break. Davies and Giugliano completed a total of 177 and 169 laps respectively, carrying out various comparative tests and evaluating the latest updates developed for the Ducati Panigale R in its 2016 Superbike configuration.
Both riders provided positive feedback regarding the chassis and engine and appreciated the new electronics strategies. A great deal of work was also done with the new Öhlins forks, which have provided greater stability and riding precision. For Davide Giugliano this was also a first opportunity to meet with his new crew chief Aligi Deganello and electronics engineer Paolo Biasio, working intensely with them both over the three days.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team #7), 1’40.774 – “Fortunately the weather has been kind to us this time, so we’ve been able to carefully evaluate the new components and start work on the setting. Compared to last week at Aragón, we’ve come to some important conclusions. The new materials represent a step forward. The new fork in particular gives a more detailed, direct feedback. Despite the different weather conditions, we were also able to work with the configurations used in the September races, making some very useful comparisons. We concentrated on rhythm, and I was able to maintain a pace in line with my best time made on the race tyre.”
Davide Giugliano (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team #34), 1’41.047 – “The outcome is very positive. The Panigale R has improved during my absence and so logically it has also changed. First of all, I wanted to find the automatisms and adapt myself to the bike in its current configuration before starting to work on a base setting. I’ve also met my new team, and it’s definitely exciting to work with people of such calibre. We concentrated on pace, considering that raw speed hasn’t been an issue in the past, carrying out solid work on used tyres. From a physical point of view, it went better than I expected though my arms did suffer a little. Up until now I’ve only been able to do some rehabilitation and training in the pool, but I’ll now start following a more structured training programme in order to be fully fit for the first tests of 2016.”
Sylvain Guintoli was also on-track, but once again his Pata Yamaha World Superbike Team YZF-R1 was not fitted with a transponder.
2014 World Supersport Champion Michael van der Mark had to pull out from the test after the first day of action due to pain in his right forearm. Initial medical examinations performed at the Stuivenberg Hospital in Antwerp, Belgium, by Dr Geert Peersman, reported an overstressed muscle, with the presence of fluid, which was aggravated by the cold conditions encountered in MotorLand Aragón early last week. The 23-year-old Dutchman has received an initial treatment and will now take a week of complete rest before a further evaluation of his condition takes place.
Michael van der Mark – “I’m very disappointed that I could not make the most of this test, as the severe pain in my right forearm didn’t allow me to continue riding. It’s a shame because this was a great chance for us to keep working on the bike before the winter break, especially given the perfect weather conditions we encountered. We still need a week to fully understand what we need to do but it looks like it’s a small issue that can be solved quite quickly. There is nothing I can do now, I just need to wait and be ready for January.”
P.J. Jacobsen was again the only entry from World Supersport. However, as Michael van der Mark was out of action and being treated in Belgium for an overstressed muscle, the American tried out the World Superbike machine; his run was only interjected by an incident at Turn 10, but Jacobsen was able to walk away from the scene of the crash.
Another rider on the sidelines was Guintoli’s team-mate Alex Lowes, who on Wednesday crashed heavily at Turn 3 and suffered a dislocated left shoulder; he has since sought specialist treatment in the UK.
Riders to have been on-track earlier in the week but not on Friday were Marco Melandri, who took up his role of MV Agusta test rider on Monday and Tuesday, plus Althea BMW Team riders Jordi Torres and Markus Reiterberger who rode the S1000RR machines on Monday and Tuesday.
The German bikes will return to action at Vallelunga as they continue their pre-season programme on Monday 14 December.
The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team will return to the tracks on 22-23 January at the Portimão circuit in Portugal for the opening tests of the 2016 season.
The testing ban for the current off-season will run for just under two weeks, from Tuesday 22 December to Monday 4 January (both dates inclusive). During this period, testing is prohibited for any team contracted to compete in either the FIM Superbike World Championship or FIM Supersport World Championship.
Unofficial testing times for Friday 27 November
- Tom SYKES / Kawasaki ZX-10R / 1’39.319 / 98 laps / Best Lap: 23
- Jonathan REA / Kawasaki ZX-10R / 1’39.524 / 44 laps / Best Lap: 29
- Xavi FORES / Ducati Panigale R / 1’40.148 / 56 laps / Best Lap: 44
- Nicky HAYDEN / Honda CBR1000RR SP / 1’40.193 / 91 laps / Best Lap: 54
- Chaz DAVIES / Ducati Panigale R / 1’40.774 / 52 laps / Best Lap: 11
- Davide GIUGLIANO / Ducati Panigale R / 1’41.152 / 60 laps / Best Lap: 55
- Leon CAMIER / MV Agusta F4 RR / 1’41.219 / 63 laps / Best Lap: 62
- Sylvain GUINTOLI / Yamaha YZF-R1 / No data registered
- P.J. JACOBSEN / Honda CBR600 RR / 1’42.292 / 75 laps / Best Lap: 72