KRT’s WorldSBK riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes have now completed their pre-season preparations after the conclusion of a two day test at Phillip Island in Australia, which will be the host venue for the first round of the championship this coming weekend.
Often taking place under windy conditions the tests were led in the end by Rea, setting a 1’30.598 best lap on the final day as he found the correct feel and feedback from his machine.
Sykes was third quickest on his Ninja ZX-10RR, with a 1’30.804 best lap; despite suffering some discomfort from the ankle he hurt in a highside crash on the first day. Rea had also crashed on day one, and again at slow speed today, but both KRT riders will start in good shape for the first practice session of race weekend, to be held on Friday 23rd February.
All Kawasaki riders will start the 2018 season with an upper rev limit of 14,100rpm. Despite this being a lower level than any of the other four-cylinder manufacturers at present, KRT now starts the season in a defiant mood after some positive testing experiences.
The heavy winds that characterised this test overall were also accompanied by sunshine at times, allowing a lot of track time for the riders and teams to make their final pre-season preparations.
Now the riders will have a slightly changed weekend schedule to take part in, with three practice sessions on Friday 23rd and then race one on Saturday 24th and race two on Sunday 25th.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “Even though the track was not in perfect condition this afternoon we managed to put together a full race simulation and we are better equipped with that information to improve the base of the bike for the race. Unfortunately yesterday I had a big crash at T11 and gave my mechanics a lot of work. They have been working super late and hard during this test and I’m so grateful for their efforts. Also a special mention should go to Arai, Alpinestars and the physio Albert, because I woke up this morning feeling relatively ok! Now we can enjoy the build up to the weekend and keep our eye on the conditions.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “Overall I am third in the lap times but I am very happy. Even happier when you consider my physical condition, after a big crash yesterday. Big thanks to the boys in the garage who worked until the early hours of the morning to be ready for today. They have given me another great bike. I have to thank Dainese and Shark for my protective equipment, and the airbag as well, as I did a few barrel rolls through the gravel in my Monday crash. I could not believe it when I woke up this morning and was ready to go. I will definitely be OK for race weekend.”
Pere Riba (Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea): “I am happy with the results of this test and the job has been done. We have tried to prepare for the race weekend and compare some points. I think we have a good base to prepare for Friday’s race weekend. Johnny has also been improving himself from yesterday until the end of today. He is quite confident with the bike. Now we will analyse everything and try to make another step in the right direction. We tried some different items and also some tyres we tested in Jerez and Portimao. But mainly we have been trying to prepare for race weekend.”
Marcel Duinker (Crew Chief for Tom Sykes): “Most of our job was done over the previous winter tests. We worked through our complete test programme then and we knew that this test in Phillip Island was only to prepare ourselves for the race. We did this and we even managed to improve our general bike setup over these four test sessions. In our initial speed we are happy but over distance we are more than happy. We have done a good job during this test and we are ready for the weekend.”