Despite shying away from pitting itself against its rivals in Portugal, Kawasaki's decision to test at Valencia instead reaped its rewards as Tom Sykes unofficially dipped below the Superbike lap record.
Having recently confirmed Sykes and Joan Lascorz as staying with the manufacturer for another season in 2012, Kawasaki completed three days of testing in Spain, alongside satellite operation Team Pedercini and the newly factory-backed Lorenzini Supersport team.
A chance for the team to become better acquainted with the Spanish-run Provec outfit, which takes over from Paul Bird Motorsport in 2012, Sykes emerged as the faster of the two riders with a best of 1min 33.1secs on race tyres – faster than the Superpole lap set around the Spanish circuit in 2009 and 2010.
Continuing development on the ZX-10R, which made its competition debut in its current guise in 2011, Nurburgring race winner Sykes was pleased with the improvements made in such a short space of time.
“The tests went well and we ended up doing a 1'33.1 lap time on a race tyre,” he said. We have worked through a lot of different things, we are working well in the garage and I am relaxed. It is no secret that when I'm relaxed I work my best. We have had some good weather - consistent weather - in Valencia and that made it better to work through all we needed to do.
“We have a new electronics package and found a better overall machine balance for me. We also went well at Aragon even though we only really had half a good day there, because of weather and some car tyre rubber laid on the track surface. Once the conditions improved it took us only four outings of four laps each to beat the kind of lap times I set at the race last summer. Right now we are on a package that we have not changed so much between the two tests.
“We have a fairly good base setting that works for race distance and, when we put new tyres in, for a fast lap time as well. I think we have come a long way even since the post-season Portimao test. The bike tells me what it is doing quite a lot better than before, and the improved feedback tells me when I am arriving at the limit.”
Lascorz, who is being reunited with the team that helped him to success in the World Supersport Championship, was also pleased with the early signs.
“I am very happy the way the test went because I set good lap times and I was very happy with the performance of the bike and the team. We made a lot of changes to the bike, changed a lot of general settings and worked on the suspension.
“Some are now much different from last year. All the staff worked well together again. I think I learned most from this test in terms of finding out more about our latest machine settings and then finding a more consistent good pace. These things should allow us to challenge closer to the top in 2012. Tom was very fast and we both worked well with race tyres.”
The World Superbike test ban has now come into effect and will last until the 15th January, when Kawasaki will resume its testing schedule at Almeria.