The Kawasaki Racing Team secured double points finishes in both of Sunday's World Superbike races at Assen, despite struggling to extract the full potential of the ZX-10R machine.
Tom Sykes made a lightning start in race one and rose up to third by lap seven, overtaking championship leader Carlos Checa along the way. Unfortunately his softer tyre choice cost him as the race unfolded, and the Briton faded to 14th.
A change in strategy for race two led to a much more consistent display, finishing 11th, and Sykes admitted the team are still learning with every session that goes by.
“Race one was unfortunate because we went for a soft A rear tyre which we thought was going to work. That did not pay off but in race two we chose the C tyre, a harder one, and probably the one that the majority of the field was on. It is still early days yet for us and we know what we can do when we find the right settings. I feel it is a question of getting better balance on the bike and having a bit more speed, but I think we will get both of them pretty soon.”
Teammate Joan Lascorz encountered very similar problems in race one, but was at least able to salvage 11th. Like Sykes, the Spaniard took a different approach to race two, and finished right on the tail of his teammate in 12th.
“In the first race the bike was good at the start but then very quickly, lap six or seven maybe, I lost the best grip and I could not get it back. In the first part of the second race I felt very low grip on a different tyre choice at the start but then it started to come in. Things improved and there was a better balance of the bike at that time. At least I could ride it better, so I picked up my pace and overtook a few people.”
The third Kawasaki Racing rider Chris Vermeulen continued to battle with the injuries he suffered earlier in the year. The pain eventually became too much as he pulled out eight laps into the first race, and withdrew from the second.
“I stopped just because of a lack of strength in my leg but we went out to try and complete the full races. We still got some useful data in any case. My leg just cramped up and I had to stop after a few laps. My pace was not so bad and I was holding down a points scoring position but I just could not get to the end. This is the first time I have been able to feel the bike really working, and I made some set-up changes because I was pushing at a decent level sometimes this weekend. I am happy with what the team has done but we have a lot of work still to do, just because I am a long way behind my team-mates in learning the bike at present. I think I should be ready for a full weekend of racing at Monza.”