Tom Sykes posted some of the fastest lap times during testing at Jerez, but since he rode without a transponder his times were unofficial.
World Superbike riders are in the midst of the final round of testing before a six-week ban is imposed that will stall any further sessions until after the New Year. Kawasaki Racing’s Tom Sykes and Loris Baz, along with Factory Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty and his potential teammate Sylvain Guintoli shared the track with Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam, logging laps for two days at the Spanish circuit. Aprilia Red Devils riders Michel Fabrizio and Alex Hofmann have also been on hand, and on Day 1 Fabrizio topped the official timesheet ahead of Laverty. Guintoli was third-fastest while Haslam and Rea settled into fourth and fifth respectively.
Sykes and Baz have adopted the strategy of putting in laps without a transponder to keep lap times from being displayed on the circuit timesheets. If his time would have been official, Sykes would have been the fastest man on track on Day 1 while Baz would have claimed the third-fastest time.
Sykes’ main concerns through all the pre-season test sessions so far have been to improve his performance over race distances and to grow accustomed to the new 17-inch regulation tires. During the 2012 season the British rider proved that he was fully capable of putting in unbeatable single lap times during Superpole sessions, but struggled early on to maintain competitive pace through an entire race.
Guintoli may be in position to take the vacant seat left by Max Biaggi following his decision to retire from professional racing. Guintoli had previously agreed on a contract with FIXI Crescent Suzuki, but in mid-October 2012 announced he would be exiting the agreement to pursue a potential seat on another team. Rumors abounded about whether he would go to Aprilia and the test session at Jerez marks the Frenchman’s first laps aboard the RSV4. On Day 2, Guintoli was the fastest rider on track, posting a 1’41.283.
Jonathan Rea spent time testing a new electronics package and working with a new data engineer at Jerez.
Rea and Haslam marked Day 2 as the end of their testing program at Jerez, with Rea spending most of the time working with a revamped electronics package and Haslam focused on looking for chassis improvements.
“I was only doing installation laps with the new electronics so didn’t get a chance to really push with it,” said Rea. “But the initial impressions are good, with a better feel in the fuel mapping and throttle control. I’ve got a new data engineer in Ronnie Schagen, who I worked with in World Supersport, and we’re working well together, which I’m happy about, too. We tried quite a lot of other things on the bike, changing the balance and so on, and when we put a bit of grip into the bike it feels pretty good. But I’m definitely looking forward to testing here again in January when we should have the full engine and electronics package.”
Ducati Alstare’s Carlos Checa and Ayrton Badovini are expected to begin testing Wednesday, November 28, as are BMW riders Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies.