Tom Sykes heads a Kawasaki 1-2 on the opening day of two-day World Superbike Phillip Island Test
Jonathan Rea and his factory Kawasaki teammate Tom Sykes have begun the final WorldSBK pre-season test session in dominant fashion by setting the fastest two times at Phillip Island today.
In an ominous display of force on the updated ZX-10R, 2013 world champion Sykes was fastest with a 1min31.097sec lap across the two 120-minute sessions, ahead of reigning No. 1 Rea (1:31.293), Dutchman Michael van der Mark (Honda, 1:31.510), Jordi Torres (BMW Motorrad, 1:31.526) and WorldSBK rookie Nicky Hayden (Honda, 1:31.558).
Van der Mark was the fastest rider on track in the morning session, but failed to better his time this afternoon — as was the case for Aussie Josh Brookes (BMW Motorrad), who crashed at the high-speed turn 11.
Brookes was uninjured and returned to work soon after, finishing day one in 14th position with a best lap of 1:32.714.
That put Brookes two spots ahead of compatriot and wildcard Mike Jones (1:33.051), who really started to ramp things up on his Ducati.
The third Australian in the 25-rider field, Josh Hook, was 19th fastest with a 1:33.792 on his privateer Kawasaki.
Hayden, alongside Max Biaggi one of the biggest names to ever join WorldSBK from MotoGP, was a big improver this afternoon as he continued to feel more comfortable in his first outing on a superbike at Phillip Island.
Hayden completed day one ahead of Yamaha teammates Sylvain Guintoli and Alex Lowes — the riders tasked with steering the Japanese company’s official re-entry into WorldSBK.
Meanwhile, emerging Spaniard Xavi Fores (Ducati) finished ahead of the Ducati factory riders Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano to complete the top 10.
“We followed a specific program, working on competitiveness over 20 laps and keeping the race weekend in mind. With the team, we only made a few, small changes to the chassis and electronics, and I was quite happy before the crash. I was trying a new compound, but I couldn’t find the same feeling. Maybe I needed a bit more time with it, but unfortunately I crashed out in the last corner. The good news is that I’m physically OK, so we’ll be able to move on with our program tomorrow.”
“I’m working differently with my new team compared with the past, prioritising consistency. Looking at the time sheets, I feel satisfied because I was able to consistently lap in the 1:31 mark. We still lack a bit of rear grip to improve our speed, but I feel I can repeat my times constantly and that gives me confidence. Tomorrow, if the weather improves, we’ll try a long-run to evaluate tyre wear.”
German Marcus Reiterberger, teammate to Torres, was also mightily impressive in his first ride at Phillip Island, completing day one in 11th position. Reiterberger comes to WorldSBK after winning the 2015 German IDM superbike title, just as Brookes is making the switch after a similarly dominant campaign in the UK.
In world supersport, Swiss rookie and former Moto2 rider Randy Krummenacher ended day one just in front of Kawasaki teammate and world champion Kenan Sofuoglu, followed by yet more big guns: Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta), Patrick Jacobsen (Honda) and Lorenzo Zanetti (MV Agusta). The gap between the quintet was 0.786secs.
Aiden Wagner (MV Agusta) and wildcard Anthony West (Yamaha) were the fastest Australians in ninth and 10th.
Of the other locals, Glenn Scott (Honda) was 15th, Mitch Levy (Yamaha) 20th, Alex Phillis (Honda) 22nd, Kane Burns (Suzuki) 24th and Lachlan Epis (Kawasaki) 27th.
Testing continues tomorrow with two sessions apiece for the world championship classes, in what will be the final shakedown before practice and qualifying begins on Friday for round one.
Video Highlights – World Superbike 2016 – Phillip Island Test – Day One
(only available for viewing within Australia)
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