Both Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes set blistering lap-times this past week as they put their Kawasaki machines through their paces at Jerez.
Rea, who has just been nominated for the Sports Personality of the Year Award, and his teammate were the quickest World Superbike riders on the circuit.
The pair also pushed their MotoGP counterparts to the limit, with only Andrea Dovizioso, Cal Crutchlow and Jorge Lorenzo managing to beat Rea’s time of 1:37.986 – set on qualifying tyres.
Rea also managed to set a lap-time of 1:38.8 on a race tyre set-up, using a harder rear tyre option. Putting these times into perspective, the existing Jerez WSBK lap record, which was set recently in a race, stands at 1:40.640. The pole record, set on qualifying tyres, is currently 1:38.960.
Speaking about the test, Rea said:
“This test is really important for us and it is always held at a good time of year. The weather has been consistent so we have been really lucky. There is a lot of rubber down on the track so we were able to evaluate all the components we had to test and we ticked everything in the box. We had to confirm chassis components and a swingarm, and we worked a lot with Showa suspension on Wednesday.
“When we had everything boxed off we were able to test some new tyres from Pirelli. We also used this test to try out a qualifying tyre and to see our true potential over one lap. I was surprised to be so fast and go into the 1’37s. Good results do not just happen; it has been a lot of hard work. I am very proud of the team as they understood the regulation changes. We were able to hit the ground running when we came here on Monday.”
Rea rode for three days in total; Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He went back to the UK to collect his Member of the British Empire award (MBE) on Tuesday.
On the other side of the garage, Sykes managed best lap-times of 1:38.8 on qualifying tyres and a 1:39.3 using race tyres.
A delighted Sykes commented:
“I am really happy with the way the tests have gone. That put a bit of a smile on my face and a spring in my step for the winter. I could honestly not have asked for any more. A big thanks to all the boys, they prepared two top-level bikes which made the testing much more efficient and I have to say I am very pleasantly surprised with my performance on race tyres.
“We tried a Q tyre, but it was in a bike with a slightly different set-up and chassis package. Since using that Q tyre we have improved the bike again and am very happy about this. It is a good way to go into the winter.”
The pace shown by both riders is even more impressive due to the fact that they were using the 14,100rpm maximum rev limit imposed on the Ninja ZX-10RR by the new 2018 technical regulations.
Rea and Sykes will return to action on January 23, in a two-day test session at Jerez.