Superbike testing at Phillip Island: Sykes, of course !
The 2014 World Superbike season begins this weekend in Phillip Island (Australia). As a prologue, the motorcycle riders were treated to two days of testing from which the champion of the discipline: Tom Sykes emerged as a “ winner ”. !
The teams registered for the 2014 Superbike World Championship are all set! The proof ? The ten best drivers of the official tests which were held last Monday and Tuesday were faster than the leader of the same tests in 2013 (read)…
Supersport: the Jacobsen surprise
|Like Sykes in the Superbike category, Kenan Sofuoglu held his position in Supersport during these Supersport tests. However, the performance of the three-time Turkish champion was eclipsed by that of American rookie PJ Jacobsen, who scored the second fastest time ahead of the young and talented – him too! – Michael van den Mark.
Jules Cluzel sets the fourth fastest time and does not hide his relief: "Miracle! After 5 and a half days of testing and so much bad luck I was finally able to do a few laps and get a stopwatch at 0.4 seconds (0.5 rather, Editor’s note) from Kenan. Phew 🙂", tweeted the n ° 16 Tuesday evening. Second French, Florian Marino finished 14th, a good second behind the leader.
It should nevertheless be remembered that last year, Tom Sykes crumpled his left hand during the second day of testing and therefore only pointed to 14th and last place which in no way corresponded to potential and reality. level of the future world champion.
This year, the new "Number One" of the category masterfully dominated his opponents, completing his best lap at an impressive average of 177.329 km / h, against 177.339 for Carlos Checa, holder of the absolute track record (see chronos below page).
Satisfied with having been able to validate the last parts made available by the Akashi factory, Sykes was delighted not only to be at the top of the best times sheet but also to be among the most consistent drivers, which is more on a track "which is not our favorite", adds the English Ninja.
"I know the conditions have trapped a lot of people already, but I know we can now approach the race weekend with a clear vision of what to do", believes Major Tom, ready to take off !
Sykes 0.005 sec from the record
"We will now focus more on performance, pure performance."Sykes warns. There is therefore a good chance that the all-time record for Checa and his Panigale will be erased from the WSBK shelves this Saturday, by the ZX-10R n ° 1 … or by another machine. ?
A single shadow has come to tarnish the magnificent painting of Mister Sykes: his Ninja was the victim of a technical glitch Tuesday at the end of the day. The English driver had fortunately set his best time in the morning: the early end of his tests did not harm him.
Such an incident during the Superpole would be much more serious for Tom, but could do business for his runner-up Eugene Laverty, second in the 2013 WSBK championship and second in these last 2014 winter tests. !
Naturally, "Youdjine" intends to beat its enemy n ° 1 in the regular at the controls of its new mount, the GSX-R 1000 meticulously and jointly prepared by the English team Crescent and the Japanese engine manufacturer Yoshimura which blows its 15 engines this year. . or 60 candles !
The Irishman can already be delighted to have been instantly in the game at Phillip Island, setting his best time on "Ile de Philippe" on Monday morning. Two tenths of a second slower on the second day, the new Suzuki rider is not disappointed, on the contrary.
"We have tried many things and probably the biggest step has been taken at the very end", declared Tuesday evening the n ° 58, before specifying:"we have made a lot of progress on the rear axle in the last 15 minutes".
"So I’m happy to end the testing on a positive note., Laverty continues, "and to have been able to have good times in these strong heat"… According to his team, the air temperature has risen to 28 °. And yes, it’s summer in the southern hemisphere !
Satisfied with his final tests, Eugene is confident about the first weekend of racing. Second in the first round of 2013 and winner of the second, the former Aprilia rider is openly aiming for the top step of the podium.
Suzuki on the lookout
"It would be wonderful to win here again", admits Laverty,"but the level is so high that I should not take anything for granted". He no doubt remembers, like us, that Leon Camier and his Gex did not particularly shine in the race last year (9th of two heats).
Third best time in these official tests, one breath away from his teammate and only three tenths of the reference time, Alex Lowes also intends to remain at the forefront this Sunday, on the occasion of his first race away from his family. !
Titled last year in British Superbike, the twin brother of Sam – you know, the Supersport world champion! – had never put his wheels on the Australian circuit before Monday but is now part, if not favorites for victory, serious contenders for the podium…
"I don’t think a lot of people were waiting for me so high so soon", remarks the new English prodigy, convinced that with"the two days of break available to reflect, we should be even better this weekend".
Falling in love with her Suz ‘, Alex appreciates in her the fact that "it’s a motorcycle that you can really put under stress"… unlike a Panigale for example ?!"She looks a bit like me: the harder you push her the more she walks !"
Last year, another rookie stood out riding this same GSX-R: Jules Cluzel! The "Coq Supersportif" finished 11th and then 7th in his first two races in the WSBK. In comparison, Alex Lowes had participated in two rounds of the 2011 World Cup and had crossed the finish line only once, in 15th position. He should do – much – better on Sunday…
Fourth to five tiny hundredths of a second from the new Suzuki recruit, Marco Melandri was very happy to ride in good conditions after having to rough the settings of his new factory RSV4 on uninviting tracks (Portimao then Jerez).
Aprilia: in red and gray
"I am happy because we have completed the planned program and collected a significant amount of information during these tests", declared the famous n ° 33 Tuesday evening. To get off on the right foot on Friday, Marco warns that he and his team owe"simply put the puzzle pieces back in place". Child’s play ?
"I think we have a good race pace", reassures the ex-BMW driver."There are still a few spots on the track that I have a problem with (the third sector, he says on Twitter, the impressive Lukey Heights and the rapid sequence that precedes it, Editor’s note) but I’m sure we can get better".
On the other side of the Aprilia box, Sylvain Guintoli shows the same optimism, relieved to have – finally! – regained health. "The most important thing is that I feel much better physically", insists our favorite n ° 50, seventh in time two tenths behind his new teammate.
Victim of a fall during the last tests in Jerez (read), "Guinters" had felt the following days a pain in the shoulder. The latter, who handicapped him at the end of last season and kept him out of the circuits afterwards, is fortunately unharmed.
"I was able to complete many laps during those two days, complete the tests we had planned and even get some decent times", summarizes our best representative at the moment in motorcycle racing" on road ".
"In the afternoon (Tuesday, Editor’s note), in conditions similar to those we will probably have for races, my RSV4 worked very well in terms of overall settings, but also tire wear management., Guinto analysis’…
"I am confident and, like last year, I am ready for the battle", concluded the Frenchie, victorious in the opening race in 2013. Sylvain then obtained his first success in racing on an international scale … and only success for the moment !
Two French at the gates of the Top 5
Just ahead of Guintoli (for nine thousandths of a second!) And half a second behind his leader, Loris Baz took sixth place in these tests. Less well placed than in the Jerez tests, the n ° 76 is above all disappointed to have fallen a second time on Tuesday…
"I lost the front today trying to re-adjust and missed most of the session", regretted the" Green Giant ", who at the same time"lost a bit of feeling at that point, but still finished fifth in the final session.
"We have gathered some good information and we know what we can do for the race. We will also have a wide choice of tires for this race, which should help us", concludes" Bazooka "… ready to coolly descend the lap times then his opponents ?!
Fifth place at the end of the two days, behind Melandri and Aprilia, figure another Italian duo: Davide Giugliano and his official Ducati, who will try to do as well as Checa and his "semi-official" machine last year. Also good in Superpole but much better in the race, since Checa had crashed badly…
"We were pretty quick in every session and the race simulation we did in the last one gave us some useful data", rejoices the n ° 34 who planned to transform his good tests on the occasion of this first race weekend.
"Ducati brought a whole host of little things to test which, combined with each other, made a big difference", guarantees the Roman pilot."The bike is improving little by little and it’s very encouraging". Sunday check…
Eighth and ninth in the standings, the Honda riders are working hard to raise their Fireblade "SP" to the level of the ZX-10R, GSX-R and RSV4 … "Since we arrived everything has gone well, we have made good progress and are on the right track", assures Leon Haslam.
Recently behind Jonathan Rea, Leon this time ahead of his colleague but he must be wary: the "Pocket Rocket" went into the air Tuesday afternoon during its first lap and could not conclude his tests.
Ducati and Honda drink hard this winter
"I’m quite relieved that my left leg remained in one piece, but my back is sore ", dropped the n ° 91 on Tuesday. Slowed down all last season by several injuries, including his fractured femur precisely, Haslam will have to contain his ardor if he wants to continue to progress !
For his part, "JR" does not focus on the timesheet: "there are a few guys who have better max rhythm than me", observe n ° 65,"but Phillip Island is a circuit to fight on all 22 laps".
The Northern Irishman admits that he still has work to do, especially with the chassis "to find the right balance on this circuit which requires a different driving style from those in Europe". It is especially in the fourth and last sector that Johnny would have the most to gain…
"Everything is so tight, I can’t afford to let three tenths of a second slip by in one sector", he remarks … And especially not in the last sector which commands the straight line in which the finish line is located !
Another subject of Her Majesty Elisabeth II (they are six British, against eight Italians, five French, two Spaniards, two Hungarians, two Americans, an Irish and a South African, even her) completes the Top 10: Chaz Davies, on the second official 1199 Panigale.
If the new Ducati n ° 7 – Checa is now enjoying a well-deserved retirement! – did not manage to slip below the 1 ’31 mark, he remains less than a second from Tom Sykes and is satisfied with the work accomplished with Ernesto Marinelli and his men.
"We tried different electronic strategies during the sessions, a pair of development parts for the engine and everything has gone pretty well: so far so good", considers the Welshman who, like Jonathan Rea, foresees good races on Sunday.
Rider of Triumph Daytona 675 in 2010, Yamaha YZF-R6 in 2011, Aprilia RSV4 in 2012 and BMW S1000RR last year, "Chazie" is riding this year the most demanding motorcycle of the Superbike field. "There are places that I still want to improve", Davies notes,"but there are still the sessions of Friday and Saturday of course". Will these be enough for him ?
Canepa leads the Evo class
Eleventh fastest time in the "scratch" and first in the new Evo category (read), Niccolo Canepa proves that the Ducati, in this configuration closer to the "Stock", can hold out against its competitors and even aim for the Top 10 in the general according to race conditions and incidents !
"I made further progress and confirmed my status as the fastest Evo rider", legitimately welcomes the sole driver of the Althea team,"but above all we were able to try a lot of different solutions, gathering data that will prove to be very useful both this weekend and throughout the season.".
There is another point which could be decisive for Niccolo in Australia: "I recorded my best time this afternoon with a tire that I had already used for more than twenty laps and it bodes well for the races on Sunday", reported Tuesday n ° 59 !
On the timesheet, the Italian is ahead of a Toni Elias whose ability to do two good races at Phillip Island should not be underestimated: tough and brawling, the Spaniard has an Aprilia again this year, in configuration Superbike what’s more…
For the record, last year Michel Fabrizio – then on the third RSV4 – allowed Noale’s firm to achieve a historic treble in the Australian first round and won a fourth in the second, finishing in the wheel of a certain Marco Melandri…
David Salom on the third official Kawasaki and Fabien Foret on his private Kawa ‘complete the Top 3 of an Evo category in which two great French hopes were to shine: Jeremy Guarnoni and Sylvain Barrier, both from the Superstock 1000 cup..
Credited with the 17th time in practice behind Claudio Corti (MV Agusta) and Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki Evo, too!), "Jey" should not have tried to follow Sylvain Guintoli: "Thank you @SylvainGuintoli for the wheel, I held two turns lol", laughed the pilot sent to the mat by his Ninja !
"Assessment of my fall this afternoon: acromioclavicular dislocation, I hope to be able to ride this weekend…", Guarnoni informed on his official Facebook page, before ironing:"very big highside in curve 2 following Sylvain Guintoli, suddenly I got the same injury…"
"It was going on, it was beautiful !", moreover congratulated" Guinters "Himself."Courage and get well", added the Frenchie to the attention of the young driver who actually recovered quickly:"it’s okay, green light given by the doctors for this weekend’s race !", posted this Thursday noon n ° 11. Phew !
For the double STK 1000 champion, on the other hand, the season will not start until next April in Aragon: injured in the pelvis on Monday afternoon, Sylvain Barrier will not need to pass on the operating table but is still forced to rest … The double champion (of Australia!) Glenn Allerton will replace "Syl’52".
Unlike the EBRs – lagging behind the BMWs of team Toth -, the Bimota were absent from these Australian tests and will miss the first round of the 2014 Superbike World Championship … A – tenth – season to follow almost directly on Site: stay connected !
Chronos of the WSBK tests at Phillip Island
- Tom Sykes – Kawasaki: 1 ‘30,239
- Eugene Laverty – Suzuki: 1 ‘30,513
- Alex Lowes – Suzuki: 1 ‘30,528
- Marco Melandri – Aprilia: 1 ‘30,579
- Davide Giugliano – Ducati: 1 ‘30.644
- Loris Baz – Kawasaki: 1 ‘30,757
- Sylvain Guintoli – Aprilia: 1 ‘30,766
- Leon Haslam – Honda: 1 ‘30,798
- Jonathan Rea – Honda: 1 ‘30,813
- Chaz Davies – Ducati: 1 ‘31,087
- Niccolo Canepa – Ducati Evo: 1 ‘31.373
- Toni Elias – Aprilia: 1 ‘31,441
- David Salom – Kawasaki Evo: 1 ‘32,008
- Fabien Foret – Kawasaki Evo: 1 ‘32,780
- Claudio Corti – MV Agusta: 1 ‘32,858
- Sheridan Morais – Kawasaki Evo: 1 ‘32,895
- Jeremy Guarnoni – Kawasaki Evo: 1 ‘32,897
- Sylvain Barrier – BMW Evo: 1 ‘32,997
- Alessandro Andreozzi – Kawasaki Evo: 1 ‘33,205
- Luca Scassa – Kawasaki Evo: 1 ‘33,960
- Michel Fabrizio – Kawasaki Evo: 1 ‘34,314
- Imre Toth – BMW: 1 ‘34,750
- Geoff May – EBR: 1 ‘34,807
- Aaron Yates – EBR: 1 ‘36,662
- Peter Sebestyen – BMW: 1 ‘42,242
Record World Superbike at Phillip Island
- Best official time: Carlos Checa – Ducati: 1 ‘30.234 ()
- Best lap in the race: Eugene Laverty – Aprilia: 1 ‘31,168 ()
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