Day One WorldSBK Sessions | Phillip Island | Events
Day One Testing | KRT Honours, Randy Krummenacher leads World Supersport and Nicky Hayden gets ready to race.
Day One Testing Honours Go To KRT Pair
With the start of a new-look WorldSBK Championship only a few days away the action in Australia got underway in testing mode on Monday 22nd February. Sessions were held on a dry track that was occasionally dappled by spots of rain but nothing like the kind of real rain that caused the disruption to the MotoGP tests a few days earlier.
In two 120-minute sessions the 25 WorldSBK riders had a good chance to make their final pre-season approaches, with some of them having new parts to test since their final forays in Europe.
For KRT rider Tom Sykes, who said he was almost ready to race after the pre-Christmas European tests, it was business as usual, fastest with a 1’31.097.
“Overall we are happy because Phillip Island is a completely unique circuit and one which is a bit different to my regular riding style,” said Sykes. “We have good feeling over one lap and over distance. Now we have a good set-up we are able to experiment with some parameters, so overall this was a productive day. There was quite a lot of interruption from the rain but tomorrow we have a clear plan of what we can do. This gives us great preparation for the race weekend.”
Sykes agreed that the rain was not heavy at any stage, and the track was more or less dry, but on day one of the tests, most were being careful. “The rain did not make the track really wet, it was more ‘mental’ rain but in turns two, three and five – where they are nearer the coast – the rain was a bit heavier. I think if you really closed your eyes and went for it maybe the lap time was not being affected. In terms of all the riders, and with it being a test, we just relaxed and took it steady. We did the whole session on one tyre to understand out set-up changes.”
On and off the spots of rain caused some anxious moments but the pace continued to improve for most in the afternoon session, as the track remained basically dry.
Just behind the number 66 Kawasaki was the new number 1 rider, Jonathan Rea, who got close to Sykes as he finds his final set-up on the all-new Kawasaki with its lower inertia engine.
Third placed rider Michael van der Mark was on good form on the first CBR1000RR, albeit third fastest overall because of his morning best lap time, not his afternoon version. He set more laps than anyone on the first day, 63.
Jordi Torres (Althea Racing BMW) was a significant 0.429 seconds from Sykes, in fourth place. Significant because that is a relatively large margin but also significant because of all the machines ranged against the KRT pairing, a BMW rider was fourth.
Jordi Torres #81
A late charge from Nicky Hayden (Honda World Superbike Team) put him fifth fastest, moving him from outside the top ten to well inside.
A solid first day for the brand now WSBK spec Yamaha R1 saw a new fuel tank design, plus lots of other new tech parts, work well for the returning official team. Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Yamaha Official WSB Yamaha) was sixth and his still recovering team-mate Alex Lowes an equally strong seventh.
The surprise fastest Ducati rider was Barni Racing rider Xavi Fores, eighth, one place ahead of Aruba.it Racing Ducati WSB rider Chaz Davies, and two places ahead of Davide Giugliano’s official bike.
Chaz Davies fell at the exit of turn 12 in the afternoon, suffering no real injury according to his team, but losing some valuable late track-time.
In the morning session Karel Abraham crashed out on his Milwaukee BMW, having a big highside at turn 11. Alex De Angelis (IodaRacing Team Aprilia) was another faller, escaping without injury after his recent recovery from a horrible crash in MotoGP last year. He would end up 20th fastest. His team-mate Lorenzo Savadori was 15th fastest as he makes the jump up from Superstock 1000.
Leon Camier was 13th on his official MV Agusta, and Josh Brookes 14th, the fastest Milwaukee BMW rider. He set a faster time in the morning than the afternoon, like only three other riders.
Randy Leads The First Day Test Field In WSS
In the Supersport World Championship division first time WSS rider Randy Krummenacher held off his Kawasaki Puccetti team-mate Kenan Sofuoglu to record the fastest testing time of day one.
His 1’33.678 was only 0.092 seconds up on Sofuoglu, who was one of the few riders not to improve his morning session time later in the day.
Swiss rider Krummenacher said, “I still need to understand more of the bike, still we have some work, but I did not expect the time at the end. I knew I was going to go faster but not like half a second. We made a step in the rear and have more confidence. We will keep working and it gives me a lot of confidence but I have to put that into a good lap and not say that I can relax.”
Regular race pace was still good for Krummenacher but he knew his team-mate Sofuoglu was concentrating on long runs on day one. “For sure Kenan is the number one because he made race distance. I had a lot of work because we tested so many different things, so we did not do a race distance. But, I can say that when I went out I immediately went into a 1’34. This is positive. Tomorrow, when we are more or less all settled we will do at least one race distance. Tyre life for us has been really good; we are not struggling. I think the WP suspension gives us another strong point in our package.”
Behind rookie Krummenacher the other top riders had a familiar feel, with returnee rider from injury Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) third and another proven race winner, PJ Jacobsen (Honda World Supersport team) fourth.
The second works MV Agusta of Lorenzo Zanetti was fifth fastest, 0.786 seconds adrift of Krummenacher.
Germany’s Kevin Wahr (Gemar Ballons Team Lorini Honda) placed sixth and double faller Gino Rea (GRT Racing MV Agusta) was seventh.
Ondrej Jezek (Team GO Eleven Kawasaki) was the first unofficial Ninja ZX-6R rider home, in eighth place, with Aussie duo Aiden Wagner (GRT Racing MV Agusta) and wild card rider Anthony West (Tribeca Racing Yamaha) tenth.
Twenty-seven WSS riders lined up for this test.
Hayden Gets Ready To Race
With his full-season debut shortly to come in the WorldSBK paddock, Honda World Superbike rider Nicky Hayden, tested at his third different circuit on his CBR1000RR since he had his first rides at Motorland Aragon and Jerez last year.
And Pi as he said, is not similar to either of those.
“It is very different here, being so much faster,” said the former MotoGP champion. “Especially here, where we have to get used to the bike moving, as it is really moving a lot in the faster corners. I think it is both bike and tyre moving, the bike moving more and I need to understand the tyres here. We have third fourth and fifth gear corners, but in Jerez or Aragon there is none of that.”
Tyres play more of a role in final raceday results at PI than most circuits, and Hayden is well aware of this. “PI is a special track on tyres. The first exit they said that the temperature and pressure of the tyres looked fine but the second exit it was spitting rain so I came back in slow. The grip is fine, it is just a bit of moving.”
No new parts of any significance came along to Phillip Island for Hayden to test, but for the first time he used all the best test items that he had selected at previous tests, all on one machine.
“We do not have anything really new,” he affirmed. “We have kinda what our best from Jerez was, because we never really had time to put all our best stuff all together.”
Hayden is ready to get his points scoring game on now, as he embarks on a new career challenge.
“I am getting more excited but we need to take advantage of these two days of testing, for sure,” said the American star. “I need some more time, to understand more things, with me, with the bike, with the team. I am excited, but trying to stay calm.”