Tom Sykes is high on confidence ahead of the 2018 Superbike World Championship after setting a blistering pace in pre-season testing at Jerez. The Yorkshireman ended the two-day test six tenths clear of Kawasaki team-mate Jonathan Rea as the reigning manufacturers champions continued to dominate.
While Sykes admitted his pace-setting lap was set in Superpole-mode, he was also encouraged by his performance over race distance as he looks to close the gap on Rea this season.
“Of course we used a qualifying tyre to our fastest time but we used it along with an old front tyre. I had a small crash and credit to the boys in the team because they swapped all the suspension and everything into the second bike and I went back out on track to test something else. I was straight back into fantastic lap times. I think even on race tyres we were the fastest but that was not the target. The target was to understand the bike, and I have to say I am very happy with our performance even on very old tyres. Even though the bike is moving in those conditions, the lap time is nice. I am definitely getting my head around how to ride it a little bit better and I have a different mindset this year. I am really looking forward to finishing testing off and heading over to Australia. I feel we are more prepared and ready for action.”
Second-placed Rea didn’t draw as many conclusions from the two days of running in Spain, claiming the track wasn’t in good condition, but the world champion remains confident heading into this weekend’s test at Portimao.
“I started to feel my flow a little bit more today. It is not that I have forgotten how to ride but it feels a little bit strange to be going really fast. But we had a positive day. We managed to confirm a lot of things and get some confidence back. There is still a little bit to work on but I think our pace is pretty good. Today I did not make many laps outside the 1’40s, which is positive. There was not so much to try out but this was more of a set-up test. Really, it was understanding how the bike is working because the track is definitely not in the best shape compared to the November test. So it just required a little bit of a different set-up. For me it was important to do long runs because, as much as it is nice to still be fast, it is more important to get myself race ready.”