The new-look Kawasaki Racing Team of Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea completed their first winter test in preparation for the 2015 season with two days of action at Motorland Aragon in Spain last week. It was the first chance for Jonathan Rea to ride the Ninja ZX-10R after he was recently confirmed in the KRT team for 2015.
With several technical changes about to be introduced to the FIM Superbike World Championship next year, the team worked on the many modifications to the Ninja ZX-10R, which include lower levels of engine tuning and fewer areas of machine adjustability than in 2014.
For the first time the riders used the MotoGP version of the Motorland Aragon circuit, rather than the more familiar SBK layout. Despite losing track time on day one after a rainy start each rider completed a high number of laps, with Sykes posting just over 100 and Rea around 80.
Neither rider was concentrating on lap times at this early stage but Rea made a best lap time of 1’51.1 on Motorland’s MotoGP layout, which will be used by the WSB class in 2015. Sykes set a best of 1’51.2 on a medium compound tyre choice, which he used all through this shakedown test for reasons of consistency and repeatability.
Next up for the KRT squad is more track evaluation of the 2015 equipment, this time at Jerez – the other Spanish circuit to have been recently confirmed on the 2015 WSBK race calendar. There will be two two-day sessions for tom and Jonathan at Jerez; 24 and 25 November and then 27 an 28 November.
Tom Sykes: “As we all know there are a lot of new technical regulations for 2015 and as soon as I left pitlane on day one I knew that we have a lot of work to do. I changed my mindset after that because we had a big list of things to try, plus some requests from KHI. We never got the chance to find a perfect package so we just focused more on race pace and evaluating things. We found a set-up and worked through the list of items to test. My approach was to find out where we are right now and what we need to do to get faster. I was also working on my riding style on the new set-up because in some ways it was ground zero at this test. We will work with a strong sense of the development direction we should take to arrive at the first round in Australia in a good place.”
Marcel Duinker, Tom Sykes’ Crew Chief said: “The new regulations mean that the bike is very different. If you have been working so hard on the previous bike and been so successful it is quite a shock when you have to almost start from scratch because the new rules give us quite a few limitations. Tom set a 1’51.2 lap and did 101 laps in total despite losing track time on day one due to rain. We started on a medium compound race tyre and stayed with that compound each day. This was so that we were able to make a proper comparison because we used a lot of new material. At the next test in Jerez we still have quite a lot of things to test and we were just a bit limited in time here. We need to find our set up and because the new rules are so different we need more time to discover our performance.”
Pere Riba, Jonathan Rea’s Crew Chief said: “I feel quite positive about this first test. We used our new bike to suit the 2015 rules for the first time and at the same time we have a new rider in Jonathan Rea. On the first day it was raining in the morning but then it was a good day of testing because we started to understand what Jonathan needed. He is a very good rider, very professional and the information we received is really good. It helps us to understand which direction we needed to go in to develop the bike. Jonathan did around 40 laps each day. It was a first test so we had to look for the base setting for the rider and the machine. That meant we spent quite a lot of time in the pit box making changes, but it worked out positively.”