Despite strong fog rolling in on the Southern Spanish circuit of Jerez in the morning, the sun shone through and riders took to the track for the second and final day of pre-season action. As the days to the 2018 opener at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit draw ever closer, riders utilised the track time to make the most of the day. But Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) impressed out on track at the end of the day, as he finished the two day test at the top of the timing screens.
2013 WorldSBK champion Sykes took the lead in the final hours of the afternoon, putting in over 70 laps and finishing an impressive 0.581s ahead of his competitors. Sykes has continued to feel more comfortable on his ZX-10RR, and the British rider’s lap time of 1.38.889 stamped his authority on the second and final day of the test. Joining Sykes at the top of the screens was Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team), who finished in second position after a strong opening day. Putting in a time of 1.39.470, he put in a hard day’s work – with 83 laps completed of the 4.4km circuit.
Third in the overall standings was Yamaha test rider Niccolo Canepa (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), as he spent two days on the 2018 YZF-R1 getting the bikes up to speed for both Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark. Canepa’s time of 1.39.524 left him just 0.635s off the top, whilst full time riders Lowes and van der Mark slotted into eighth and ninth position at the end of day two, both just over 1.5s behind Sykes’s Kawasaki.
In a stunning performance, Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) is finding his feet very quickly on board the Fireblade CBR1000RR SP2, and completed the Jerez test in fourth position and only 0.719s behind leader Sykes. The British rider has come up to speed with his new bike and team at an impressive speed, and his lap of 1.39.608 is not one to ignore. On the other side of the garage, Jake Gagne (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) ended in 15th position as he continues to adjust to the WorldSBK paddock.
Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team-mates had a varied day around Circuito de Jerez, as Marco Melandri had a strong day in fifth position with his Panigale R but Chaz Davies ended down in 12th. Still recovering from the injury sustained here in November, Welsh rider Davies put in 69 laps but his lap time of 1.40.723 could only get him in the top 12.
Continuing to work with a new team structure, Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) was able to finish in a solid sixth position around Jerez, with a time of 1.39.876 and putting him 0.987 behind Sykes. Hoping to returning to podium fighting positions, Laverty is having a positive pre-season so far whilst team-mate Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) ended the day in a disappointing 17th position, 2.522s behind the top.
Spanish hero Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) is still learning and understanding the Italian machine, and a top seven position is a strong one for the Spanish rider. Over 70 laps were clocked by Torres on day two, and a lap time of 1.40.155 as his pre-season regime continues.
New faces on the 2018 grid Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team), Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and Yonny Hernandez (Pedercini Racing Team) were also getting to grips with their new machines. Baz, who is previous WorldSBK race winner, ended the day in the top 11, whilst young Turkish rider Razgatlioglu was in the top 14 with team manger Manuel Puccetti explaining how happy the team are with his progress and the lack of pressure on the 21 year old. Hernandez is still adapting to the Pirelli tyres and ZX-10RR SBK machine, and ended the day in 18th position overall.
|Michael vd MARK