Happy Track REturn For SBK Riders Sykes And Baz
Newsflash, 17 January 2014
Friday 17 January saw the completion of the first test of the new SBK season for KRT riders Tom Sykes and Loris Baz, with both lapping confidently and at pace at the Spanish circuit of Almeria.
During a two-day test the team worked through the new and existing race parts fitted to the Ninja ZX-10R. The riders ended up setting very good lap times on day two at a circuit which is not used for regular SBK competition.
Sykes set a 1’34.0 on race tyres, while Baz posted the same lap time using a qualifying rear and made a 1’34.5 on a race tyre.
For Sykes the test at Almeria began a season in which he will be going for back-to-back Superbike World Championship titles on the awesome official Ninja ZX-10R. Tom made 33 laps on the first day at Almeria, and then 83 on the second day, completing the schedule of planned work despite suffering a little with a head and chest cold.
Loris Baz was in particularly good form compared to his previous outings at Almeria, going over three seconds faster than he managed at the Spanish track at the corresponding tests at this time last season. The French rider, who will soon celebrate his 21st birthday on February 1, did 42 laps on day one at Almeria and 65 on day two.
The Kawasaki Racing Team personnel will reconvene in Barcelona for the team launch at the end of January and then take to the track in Spain once more, at the Jerez circuit between 5 and 6 February. The first round of the 2014 championship takes place on 23 February at the Phillip Island circuit in Australia.
Tom Sykes: “The test went well and the schedule of work we had to get through was completed. We have evaluated everything and it has all been positive. We did over 80 laps on the final day and I feel we made a step forward. I have a bit of a cold so I personally have not been feeling 100% but having said that the Ninja ZX-10R was working well. We were able to make some good lap times and evaluate a few things so we are one step closer in our preparations for Phillip Island. We understand things a bit more clearly and now I am looking forward to the next test at Jerez.”
Loris Baz: “A good test at Almeria. We just wanted to try a lot of things that we had already tried in Jerez last time out. We wanted to confirm them, and the overall feeling with the bike, and it was very good. I am really happy with the test especially at this track, which is one of the most difficult ones for me. It is very small and slow and I improved more than three seconds a lap compared to when I was here last year. The good things we found with the set-up at the Jerez test last time out also worked for us at this different style of track in Almeria. Now we have the official team launch, then another test at Jerez, and then we go to Australia.”
Marcel Duinker, Tom Sykes’ Crew Chief: “We approached this test as more of a function test more than a performance test. We received some small items for the chassis and the engine and we tested those. On the final day the weather was sunny but still a little cool and we made 83 laps. We had tested the material that we needed to test by the time we had finished.”
Pere Riba, Loris Baz’s Crew Chief: “This was a very good test because the target for the riders after the winter break was to get on the bike and get used to it again. We made another step forward with Loris during this winter and KHI also made some new parts we requested after the previous tests. We put everything together and it seems to be going in a good way. Last time we tested, at Jerez, Loris had already found another level. Everything is coming together again, so I am very pleased. Right away Loris was very fast, and close to Tom. Almeria is not a fast track with fast corners, so it should be a more difficult place for Loris’s riding style, but even here he showed a really good improvement compared to last year at Almeria. He looks very powerful and he is still learning, so we are very happy.”