Former world champion Tom Sykes heads for Australia looking to take a strong first step on retrieving the crown that was his in 2013.
The Huddersfield rider and his Kawasaki Racing Team colleague Jonathan Rea, who won last year’s Wold Superbikes Championship, have completed their final pre-season preparations on the new Ninja ZX-10R after the end of a two-day test session at Phillip Island in Australia – the venue for the first round of the FIM Superbike World Championship which starts this coming weekend.
Testing was a highly successful test for both of Kawasaki’s official riders with Sykes fastest of all and Rea second quickest in a field of 25 machines.
Sykes did his best of test 1 minute 31.097 seconds, while Rea set his personal best at 1’31.249.
With new rules allowing each rider to use only one bike at a time, but to have a spare machine ready to go in the event of trouble, Sykes and Rea spent time making sure that both their bikes are ready for the coming weekend.
The second and final afternoon of action was also complicated by high winds, gusting at times, which pushed the riders down the home straight but made turning for the first sections of the track a complicated affair.
Several red flag incidents for incidents involving other riders interrupted the track action over both days but the KRT pit crews got through their final pre-season preparations in good order.
The KRT team are now ready to face the first two races of the season – the opener on Saturday and the second on Sunday as World SBK races will now run on consecutive days according to the revised 2016 race weekend format.
Sykes said: “There were a lot of stoppages for red flags over the course of two days but I think we are in a very good situation.
“We are fast with the cold conditions, warmer conditions, and also with some laps on the tyres.
“We have finished our two days of testing in a strong way, at a track that has been one of our limits in the past.
“Everything is definitely heading in the right direction and we have gathered some great information.
“I am happy to head into the race weekend now having completed a successful test.
“All we have to do now is get our heads together, have a brief summary of what we have done but on the whole we have made some key changes and put ourselves in a better position for the opening race weekend.”
Marcel Duinker, Tom Sykes’ Crew Chief, added: “We did not get all the time we should have had for the many red flag interruptions but we came here with a good base bike from the winter tests.
“We made some key adjustments for this track and they worked out.
“Initially Tom showed good speed and also good speed over distance.
“Now we have two days to analyse all the steps we have made, which we will tomorrow for the first free practice session – let’s go racing.”