Rea and Sykes get reacquainted with Portuguese circuit.
Kawasaki Racing Team pairing Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes got reacquainted with the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve over a two-day test this week.
Portimao, Portugal, will make a return to the Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) calendar in 2017 and as such this was an important private test, for two main reasons.
First was to make preparations for what will be the 10th round of the championship itself in September and the other was to unlock more performance from the Ninja ZX-10RR away from the busy demands of a regular race weekend.
After a recent single day test in Motorland Aragon, held immediately after the previous round of the championship, Rea and Sykes posted strong lap times and race pace and that upward trend continued at Portimao.
Only four bikes were on track during these tests, which meant that the grip from the asphalt only slowly improved as the two days came to a close. Even then Rea set an impressive 1m41.4s lap-time when using the latest generation of qualifying rear tyre.
“It has been really nice to test here in Portimao, especially to continue on from our positive test in Aragon,” Rea said. “We worked in a calm and methodical way. The track was really dirty and because there were only a few bikes on track we never had perfect conditions on the ground. In saying that, 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. It comes at a good time to try to keep the momentum we have build up as we move forward now to Assen.”
After still suffering the effects of a stomach problem that was evident at the Aragon round, Sykes has not quite regained his normally peak of physical fitness and had to reduce his expected lap count at this test. He did get the chance to use the new qualifying rear tyre late in the second afternoon and set a best of 1m42.3s.
With the latest tests now successfully concluded, the fourth round of the championship takes place at Assen in the Netherlands between 28-30 April, with Rea already leading on points and Sykes in position overall.