Kawasaki men top Jerez WorldSBK Testing

As testing resumed in Jerez on Tuesday ahead of the 2016 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship, BMW’s Markus Reiterberger was just 23 thousandths of a second slower than Tom Sykes. However, it was World Champion Jonathan Rea who led the way with a lap time quicker than the Jerez pole position of last season.

WorldSBK 2016 - Jerez Testing - November, 2015 - Jonathan Rea
WorldSBK 2016 – Jerez Testing – November, 2015 – Jonathan Rea

Back in September, Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) had taken the Jerez pole position with a lap time of 1’40.292. On this Tuesday, however, team-mate Rea dipped underneath that as he produced 1’40.139 on the all-new Kawasaki ZX-10R. Incidentally, this was some seven-tenths of a second quicker than the lap time with which Rea had topped the timesheets when the test began on Monday. Sykes – whose programme was slightly disrupted by a small crash at Turn 2 – ended the second day three and a half tenths down on Rea. Both KRT riders will take a day of rest on Wednesday before returning to the track on Thursday and Friday.

WorldSBK 2016 - Jerez Testing - November, 2015 - Tom Sykes
WorldSBK 2016 – Jerez Testing – November, 2015 – Tom Sykes

Conditions may have been slightly cooler on Tuesday than they had been 24 hours earlier, but Reiterberger was certainly warming to the Althea Racing BMW S1000RR, ending proceedings only 23 thousandths down on Sykes and four tenths slower than pace-setter Rea.

WorldSBK 2016 - Jerez Testing - November, 2015 - Markus Reiterberger
WorldSBK 2016 – Jerez Testing – November, 2015 – Markus Reiterberger

Markus Reiterberger: “I’m happy with how our first test has gone. I’ve got on really well with the whole Team and with my BMW. I was very fast today but we have a great deal of work to do in order to improve in all areas and become competitive. I hope I’m able to improve already in the next test at Vallelunga, and can’t wait to get back on the bike.”

WorldSBK 2016 - Jerez Testing - November, 2015 - Markus Reiterberger
WorldSBK 2016 – Jerez Testing – November, 2015 – Markus Reiterberger

Fourth was Jordi Torres; the Spaniard, on only his second day of riding the Althea BMW, was less than half a second in arrears of his team-mate.

WorldSBK 2016 - Jerez Testing - November, 2015 - Jordi Torres
WorldSBK 2016 – Jerez Testing – November, 2015 – Jordi Torres

Jordi Torres: “In general I’d say it’s gone well, because we’ve completed some great work. We worked to find a solution for problems identified at the start of the test and the fact we found a solution, with a new bike, must mean we’re on the right track. We’ve a lot to do but we’ll soon be competitive and I want to do as much as I can to learn to ride what is a totally different bike to those I’ve ridden in the past.”

WorldSBK 2016 - Jerez Testing - November, 2015 - Jordi Torres
WorldSBK 2016 – Jerez Testing – November, 2015 – Jordi Torres

At MV Agusta Reparto Corse, Marco Melandri was again the only representative riding the F4 RR. The Italian, who is not as tall as regular rider Leon Camier, admitted to some difficulties in shifting his weight around the bike’s sizeable fuel tank. Incidentally, the team will be testing a new fuel tank this week, and the aforementioned Camier will be taking to the track on Thursday and Friday.

MV Agusta Reparto Corse, newly-appointed test rider Marco Melandri was on-hand.
MV Agusta Reparto Corse, newly-appointed test rider Marco Melandri was on-hand.

Four-time WSS champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) took his latest-spec Ninja ZX-6R to a remarkable 1’43.009 lap time on the second and final day of his team’s tests at Jerez de la Frontera. His new team-mate and WSS rookie Randy Krummenacher was also on great form in his first test with the team, posting a 1’43.639 personal best lap.

Sofuoglu used his new machine settings and components to the maximum to record his remarkable best time. It was enough to make his the sixth fastest lap of all the various categories on show, including Superstock 1000, BSB and other WSS machines.

Sofuoglu was enthused by this good early pace and although there is some way to go to finalise all the 2016 technical regulation changes on his machinery package, he left Jerez looking forward to the next track sessions.

WorldSBK 2016 - Jerez Testing - November, 2015 - Randy Krummenacher
WorldSBK 2016 – Jerez Testing – November, 2015 – Randy Krummenacher

Moving from Moto2 to WSS in 2016 Krummenacher was pleasantly surprised at many aspects of his new machine’s set-up, setting the second best WSS time at the tests. Working in a methodical way he made a big improvement in his times from day one to day two. He feels there is even more to come when he has more experience of the Pirelli tyres.

As well as the new twin-pronged attack from Kawasaki in the WSS class, Superstock 600 champion Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) took his very standard 2016 Ninja ZX-10R to a remarkable lap time first time out. His 1’43.414 was only just shy of the 2015 track best time in Superstock 1000. Razgatlioglu only had a race exhaust and some race bodywork fitted on his all-new 2016 machine, which had a standard suspension and engine set-up at this test.

Kenan Sofuoglu: “The last two days we had a lot of work to do but it was very positive work. I made a huge change in my bike, different suspension now, and I made a track record in this test. The bike has improved a lot and after two days the race simulation was also very fast and the consistency of the lap times was good. This was a very positive test and now I can relax in the winter because this was the first test for 2016 for me and we have started with an incredibly good pace. Our best lap here today was half a second faster than my pole position time in 2015, with the same tyres. We also tried many other things and all the things we tried worked well. For us this was a very positive test for the whole team.”

WorldSBK 2016 - Jerez Testing - November, 2015 - Kenan Sofuoglu
WorldSBK 2016 – Jerez Testing – November, 2015 – Kenan Sofuoglu

Randy Krummenacher stated: “In general the test was really positive. Today I experienced the race tyre, which was really impressive in how much grip it had. For sure I did not make the maximum out of the grip because I was so surprised at how much grip there was. So next time I am sure I can improve my lap time, now that I have a bit of experience. We are already quite close to Kenan, which is really good, but we have a lot of work to do and we will keep on working. Only one test, but already I do not miss the past. I am here in the right time and in the right place.”

In WorldSSP, Lorenzo Zanetti rode alongside Jules Cluzel at MV Agusta Reparto Corse for the first time this week. The latter continued to adapt to his latest situation onboard the F3 675; the Frenchman has limited mobility in his left ankle following his heavy crash at the same circuit two months ago.

In the STK1000 ranks, there were two riders on-track that had not been in action on Monday, as Team Pedercini ran its Kawasaki ZX-10R with 2015 WorldSBK rider Christophe Ponsson alongside French compatriot Jeremy Guarnoni, who won the last race of 2015 on a Yamaha YZF-R1. Raffaele de Rosa (Althea Racing, BMW S1000RR) was the quickest FIM Superstock 1000 Cup rider.

Raffaele De Rosa: “I’m pleased with these two days of testing. I hadn’t ridden since Magny-Cours and immediately had a good feeling with the bike. The bike, as it is now, is already at a good level. We also carried out a race simulation and I was satisfied with that. My lap times have been very positive and, though it’s too early to make any predictions, I’m feeling very optimistic.”

On Wednesday, four WorldSBK teams will test at Jerez for the first time this week. At Aruba.it Ducati-Racing SBK Team, Davide Giugliano will attempt to make a much-anticipated return alongside Chaz Davies. Xavi Fores will test his Panigale R under the Barni Racing Team banner for the first time, having signed up as the squad’s sole race rider for next year. Also on-track in Andalucia will be the Honda World Superbike Team combination of Michael van der Mark and Nicky Hayden, plus Pata Yamaha World Superbike Team duo Sylvain Guintoli and Alex Lowes.

Althea BMW do not return to the track until 14 December, at Vallelunga in Italy, where it will carry out one day of testing, providing the riders with new material and electronic solutions as they work to refine the new bikes.

Unofficial testing times for Tuesday 24 November
WorldSBK
  1. Jonathan Rea / Kawasaki ZX-10R: 1’40.139 / 76 laps / Best Lap: 75
  2. Tom Sykes/ Kawasaki ZX-10R: 1’40.508 / 65 laps / Best Lap: 28
  3. Markus Reiterberger / BMW S1000 RR: 1’40.531 / 58 laps / Best Lap: 28
  4. Jordi Torres / BMW S1000 RR: 1’41.002 / 79 laps / Best Lap: 62
  5. Marco Melandri / MV Agusta F4 RR / No data released
World Supersport
  1. Kenan Sofuoglu / Kawasaki ZX-6R: 1’43.009 / 74 laps / Best Lap: 35
  2. Randy Krummenacher / Kawasaki ZX-6R: 1’43.639 / 57 laps / Best Lap: 43
  3. Lorenzo Zanetti / MV Agusta F3 675: 1’44.845 / 47 laps / Best Lap: 46
  4. Ilya Mikhalchik / Kawasaki ZX-6R: 1’45.120 / 51 laps / Best Lap: 31
  5. Jules Cluzel / MV Agusta F3 675: 1’46.085 / 37 laps / Best Lap: 35
STK1000
  1. Raffaele De Rosa / BMW S1000 RR: 1’43.040 / 53 laps / Best Lap: 35
  2. Toprak Razgatliogu / Kawasaki ZX-10R: 1’43.414 / 60 laps / Best Lap: 58
  3. Jeremy Guarnoni / Kawasaki ZX-10R: 1’43.517 / 46 laps / Best Lap: 44
  4. Christophe Ponsson/ Kawasaki ZX-10R: 1’44.571 / 62 laps / Best Lap: 34