The factory Kawasaki team of Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes completed a two-day test at the Portimao circuit this week in a bid to continue dialing in the already dominant ZX-10RR.
With WSB not racing at the Portimao circuit in Portugal in 2016 it was a case of re-acclimatization for both Rea and Sykes, but that didn’t stop Rea setting an impressive 1:41.4s best using one of Pirelli’s new qualifying tyres which are designed to be capable of completing more that one hot lap.
The reigning world champion, who has won five out of the opening six races, also spent time concentrating on improving his race starts. With new technical regulations for 2017 seeing the introduction of a reverse grid for race two dictated by the results of race one, Rea has started from ninth position three times so far in 2017, meaning his race starts are now more crucial than ever.
He said: “The weather has been amazing and we were able to make a lot of laps, analysing some new parts. We also made a good step forward with our chassis set up, improving that in some key areas. We were able to draw some positive conclusions from doing two full race simulations, when my pace was strong. I also did a lot of practice starts and now I feel a bit more consistent in that area. After we ticked all the items off the list of work we had to do I used a Q tyre and we were able to make a really fast lap.”
Despite still suffering from the stomach problems that caused him a bout of sickness at Aragon over two weeks earlier, Tom Sykes still managed to make some progress on his Kawasaki ZX-10RR
“Trying to ride a Superbike really fast in my current condition was not ideal as I am still feeling the lingering effects of a stomach complaint I had at Aragon.” Explained Sykes. “I am recovering now and this is where I start building back up for the next round at Assen. This test was very useful as we confirmed a few things but my pure performance is not quite there yet. On race tyres we were definitely in the ballpark and that was nice to see, as I am certainly not myself yet on the bike.”
The fourth round of the World Superbike championship takes place at Aseen on 28th to 30th April.