Ambitions High For KRT Riders As Season Restarts
After a long summer break the FIM Superbike World Championship gets underway once again, at a home venue for most of the backroom staff of the Kawasaki Racing Team this coming weekend, at Jerez in Spain. Tom Sykes and Loris Baz in the full SBK class, and David Salom in the SBK Evo class, are all determined to make the most of the first round of the championship to be held since the middle of July.
In the SBK championship fight Sykes is a clear and convincing leader, with eight wins to his credit and an advantage of 44 points over his closest challenger. Memories of winning the Superbike title on his Ninja ZX-10R in the final round of the 2013 season at Jerez are still vivid for Tom and all his team. These positive thoughts will add to Tom’s already high levels of motivation to succeed again on track when the first practice sessions get underway at the 4.423km long Jerez circuit on Friday 5 September.
For Baz the 2014 season has seen him grow once again to become top-level competitor. After two unusual results in America, in ninth and sixth places, he is expected to be back at his best at a circuit the team has tested at earlier this year. Loris is sitting fourth in the championship, with the tall French rider aiming to move back up the overall ranking in the final three rounds of the 2014 series.
In the Evo class, a new category for 2014, Salom and the Ninja ZX-10R have been the combination to beat all year. Now 12th overall in the combined rankings, Salom leads the Evo championship by an impressive 37 points, with only three rounds remaining.
On Wednesday 3 September the team will unveil a special paint scheme on their machines for the Spanish race, during an autograph session with the riders in Malaga. The new graphics will feature more prominent Motocard.com logos on the flanks of the Ninja ZX-10R for this round.
The Jerez circuit is a popular one for all on the campaign trail, a regular stop-off for the MotoGP class but re-used for the first time in Superbike since the 1990 season. It is also highly rated as a test track, particularly by the KRT squad, with good winter test results during the last visit of the SBK team – results that the team intends to turn into strong performances on raceday.
Since the last round in America there has been an official test session, albeit way back on 20 and 21 July at Portimao in Portugal.
After the Jerez weekend on 5-7 September the final 2014 FIM Superbike World Championship calendar will now feature rounds in Magny Cours in France (3-5 October) and the season finale at Losail in Qatar (31 October to 2 November).
Tom Sykes: “The emotions involved in going back to Jerez are massive. I had never won a championship before last year and then I dived in at the deep end with the Superbike World Championship title! It was even completed at Jerez, a home round for my Spanish team. I have spent a lot of time there in winter testing as well so it has a truly special feeling for me and there are so many magical memories from there. It is a really nice racetrack, really enjoyable and I cannot wait to get back there on my Ninja ZX-10R. We have improved the bike a little bit during a test at Portimao, after America, so I am looking forward to putting those changes into practice in Jerez. The Spanish fans were great there last year, very enthusiastic, so I am really looking forward to going back there.”
Loris Baz: “It’s cool to be back on the Ninja ZX-10R at Jerez. I love the track and we set some strong lap times there in the winter tests. I found a lot of improvements in my confidence in those tests so now I am really looking forward to going to Jerez again to race. We only have three rounds left this season, which is not the best for me to move up the table, but I will do the best I can to come back as hard as possible. We have been strong in all the races this year, apart from America, and I am confident I will be fast again in Spain. In the recent Portimao test, after Laguna Seca, I regained a good feeling with the bike and we tried a few more parts that improved our race settings. I am sure we will feel these when we get to Jerez in a few days.”
David Salom: “I had an operation on my injured hand and wrist after the last round and I have worked very hard with the doctors and physiotherapists to be as ready for Jerez as I can be. I rode a small bike last week and it felt OK. Now I just need more time to recover and more exercise to find full strength in my hand. It already feels better than it has all season because the only pain I have now is from the operation, not my previous injury. Jerez is a special track for me and I will lots of my family there so I want to have a good weekend for many reasons.”