Sykes’ first round results, after a winter of intense testing and development, demonstrated that Kawasaki’s plans have been moving the race set-up of the Ninja ZX-10R in the right direction. It was particularly evident at PI as this track has seldom been kind to Sykes or the team in the past and Tom does not cite it as one of his favourites.
In race one Tom led for the first two laps and was in a podium place for 13 laps, only dropping back in the final few circuits as the wind started to affect his machine and tyre wear took its toll. Changes to the bikeset-up in race two helped Tom not only lead again and then defend his position but he was also able to run down Jonathan Rea to secure third exiting the final corner and holding it down the long straight.
Sykes’ team-mate Joan Lascorz could not find a set-up to let him compete in race one, but he was well in the fight in race two, sitting behind Tom in fourth until he fell, losing the front on lap 11. He only scored in one race today but he proved that with the right set-up options on his bike he can run with the best.
Pedercini Team Kawasaki regular David Salom battled against injury to go 14th in race one, but had to retire from race two due to pain and fatigue in his wrist.
A great ride from stand-in Pedercini rider Bryan Staring put him tenth in race one, but the hotter temperatures in race two saw him have to fight to go 16th.
Tom Sykes: “In race one I got a good start and over race distance I had been feeling really strong all week. It was a very difficult race with the wind blowing me and the bike around but to be honest I had to use my head a bit and not get sucked into too much fighting. I was just trying to manage the gap behind, but to come away with a fourth, on a track like this, using the same tyres as the guys on the podium, is a bit of a first for us. It shows the progress Kawasaki has made over the winter. To take the podium on the last lap was really satisfying and the bike has been working really well in winter testing so big thanks to the team; they were very focused. Race two was even more windy than race one but my crew chief and team changed the balance of the bike and compensated for some things. For sure we arrived at the limit but we were able to maintain a consistent pace right to the end. I had a good fight with Max for a couple of laps and a few corners. So to come away with pole position, third and fourth in the races? I am over the moon, because this circuit has never been a strong one for us in the past.”
Joan Lascorz: “It was difficult with the settings in the first race. In the first part it was not so bad, then we had a lot of problems with vibration. The wind was also pushing me around in the fast corners. I eventually lost the front in race two but it was much better for the machine set-up. Congratulations toTom, he rode a nice race, and congratulations to the team and Kawasaki too. I crashed out of race two but I think we were just unlucky, and it was good to find our true pace in race two for a few laps.”
Steve Guttridge: Kawasaki Europe Race Planning Manager: “This is a fantastic weekend after all the hardwork the teams have done and they pulled out all the stops. They had a very intelligent testing programme and put it all together on raceday. Kawasaki is delighted with the performance and commitment of the teams. To see Tom be able to push right until the last lap and then make a pass for his podium place on the finish straight was fantastic.”