The countdown to the 2013 World Superbike Championship will officially get underway this weekend when a handful of teams descend on the Almeria circuit in Spain for a two day test that marks the end of the winter ban.
The six-week hiatus came to an end earlier this week, just over a month before the official pre-season test begins at Phillip Island in Australia on 18th/19th February. The opening round of the 2013 season will then take place later that week at the same circuit.
Heading up the participants at Almeria this week will be Kawasaki, who will be present with its riders Tom Sykes and Loris Baz. The pair on hand to try out new Showa suspension and a series of revised parts to help develop the five-time race winning ZX-10R into a stronger prospect for 2013.
Sykes, who came to within half a point of winning the 2012 title, is looking forward to getting his season underway after the lengthy break.
“After a nice break over the holiday period I am looking forward to getting back on my Kawasaki. It has been a few weeks now so it will be good to get going again. Almeria is a circuit where we go to stretch our legs a little bit and break ourselves into a new year.
“We did the same thing last year and it seemed to work for us then, so we are going the same again in 2013. There will be a couple of things we want to try but the main aim is for everybody to get back into it, get up to speed and then away we go.”
Baz, meanwhile, is excited about the opportunity to open up a season with Kawasaki for the first time after joining the team's 2012 campaign mid-way through the year.
“I am really ready for the season now. I had a good period of time off but it has been a while since we were on track because of the testing ban. I hear we have some new parts to test, in suspension and on the bike, so I am looking to see if we can improve in general and for me to reduce the gap to Tom.
“It is good to start testing at Almeria because it is a track that is not on the championship so we do not have any pressure and we can go step-by-step at the beginning.”
Kawasaki will be joined by FIXI Crescent Suzuki riders Leon Camier and Jules Cluzel, as well as Davide Giugliano on the new Althea Aprilia at Almeria. The manufacturer will then move onto Jerez next week for the next round of private testing.