Jonathan Rea and his factory Kawasaki teammate Tom Sykes have begun the final WorldSBK pre-season test session in dominant fashion by setting the fastest two times at Phillip Island today.
In an ominous display of force on the updated ZX-10R, 2013 world champion Sykes was fastest with a 1min31.097sec lap across the two 120-minute sessions, ahead of reigning No. 1 Rea (1:31.293), Dutchman Michael van der Mark (Honda, 1:31.510), Jordi Torres (BMW Motorrad, 1:31.526) and WorldSBK rookie Nicky Hayden (Honda, 1:31.558).
Van der Mark was the fastest rider on track in the morning session, but failed to better his time this afternoon — as was the case for Aussie Josh Brookes (BMW Motorrad), who crashed at the high-speed turn 11.
Brookes was uninjured and returned to work soon after, finishing day one in 14th position with a best lap of 1:32.714. That put him two spots ahead of compatriot and wildcard Mike Jones (1:33.051), who really started to ramp things up on his Ducati.
The third Australian in the 25-rider field, Josh Hook, was 19th fastest with a 1:33.792 on his privateer Kawasaki.
Hayden, alongside Max Biaggi one of the biggest names to ever join WorldSBK from MotoGP, was a big improver this afternoon as he continued to feel more comfortable in his first outing on a superbike at Phillip Island, and he completed day one ahead of Yamaha teammates Sylvain Guintoli and Alex Lowes — the riders tasked with steering the Japanese company’s official re-entry into WorldSBK.
Meanwhile, emerging Spaniard Xavi Fores (Ducati) finished ahead of the Ducati factory riders Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano to complete the top 10.
German Marcus Reiterberger, teammate to Torres, was also mightily impressive in his first ride at Phillip Island, completing day one in 11th position. Reiterberger comes to WorldSBK after winning the 2015 German IDM superbike title, just as Brookes is making the switch after a similarly dominant campaign in the UK.
In world supersport, Swiss rookie and former Moto2 rider Randy Krummenacher ended day one just in front of Kawasaki teammate and world champion Kenan Sofuoglu, followed by yet more big guns: Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta), Patrick Jacobsen (Honda) and Lorenzo Zanetti (MV Agusta). The gap between the quintet was 0.786secs.
Aiden Wagner (MV Agusta) and wildcard Anthony West (Yamaha) were the fastest Australians in ninth and 10th. Of the other locals, Glenn Scott (Honda) was 15th, Mitch Levy (Yamaha) 20th, Alex Phillis (Honda) 22nd, Kane Burns (Suzuki) 24th and Lachlan Epis (Kawasaki) 27th.
Testing continues tomorrow with two sessions apiece for the world championship classes, in what will be the final shakedown before practice and qualifying begins on Friday for round one.
Meanwhile, the biggest convert to WorldSBK in recent years, 2006 MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden, was 11th on his Honda.
In this morning’s 110-minute world supersport (WorldSSP) session, four-time world champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawaski) dominated for the outset, and completed the session nearly one-second ahead of teammate and former Moto2 rider Randy Krummenacher, with American Patrick Jacobsen (Honda) in third.
Australians Anthony West (Yamaha) and Aiden Wagner (MV Agusta) impressed in sixth and eighth respectively, with Mitch Levy (Yamaha) the best of the other locals in 17th ahead of Glenn Scott (Honda, 18th), Alex Phillis (Honda, 19th), Kane Burns (Suzuki, 22nd) and Lachlan Epis (Kawasaki, 24th).
Last year’s Phillip Island winner Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta) was 10th.
The kick-off of the 2016 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship, Yamaha Finance round will be held at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit this Friday to Sunday (Feb 26-28). Tickets at www.ticketek.com.au or at www.worldsbk.com.au
WorldSBK – Top Five Times
1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) – 1m31.097
2. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) – 1m31.293
3. Michael van der Mark (Honda) – 1m31.510
4. Jordi Torres (BMW) – 1m31.526
5. Nicky Hayden (Honda) – 1m31.558
WorldSBK – Australians
14. Josh Brookes (BMW) – 1m32.714
16. Mike Jones (Ducati) – 1m33.051
19. Josh Hook (Kawasaki) – 1m33.792
WorldSSP – Top Three Times
1. Randy Krummenacher (Kawasaki) – 1m33.678
2. Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) – 1m33.770
3. Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta) – 1m34.233
WorldSSP – Australians
9. Aiden Wagner (MV Agusta) – 1m35.449
10. Anthony West (Yamaha) – 1m35.511
15. Glenn Scott (Honda) – 1m35.914
20. Mitch Levy (Yamaha) – 1m36.901
22. Alex Phillis (Honda) – 1m37.735
17. Lachlan Epis (Kawasaki) – 1m39.183