Tom Sykes believes he is ready to race with his current set up after lapping faster than everyone on the first day of World Superbike testing in Australia, and then restated that he felt team-mate Jonathan Rea's preseason assessment of the 2016 Kawasaki ZX-10R was “a cheap comment”.
The Englishman continued his run of preseason form at Phillip Island by lapping the seaside circuit 0.19s faster than Rea, and was also pleased with performance over distance. His fastest lap came on his tenth lap with the same tyres, which Sykes felt bore testament to his pace and he is already confident on his choice of Pirelli rubber for race distance.
The Australian track hasn't always been kind to the 2013 world champion, with Sykes going as far to say both it and Jerez were among two of his weakest circuits. Thus his performances on the '16 machine to date have left him feeling more than confident.
“Overall I'm fairly happy,” said Sykes. “For the nature of Phillip Island and our history here we've definitely got a good pace. I'm happy with our one lap performance and also our performance over distance.
“In this moment I'm happy. We've done some function performance today to give us an idea for tomorrow. I'm going to sit down shortly to make a clear plan for tomorrow to use the day wisely. I have to say at this moment we're all set up and I'm happy to go racing with this setting.
“Jerez and Phillip Island are probably two of my weakest circuits. That lap time came on the tenth lap. That for me is very promising. We still have a lot of time to improve our bike so that for me is a good starting point.”
At his KRT Kawasaki team's launch in Barcelona Sykes told Crash.net
that he felt Rea's comments after a Spanish test that the new ZX-10R was suited more to his style we wide of the mark.
On Monday evening Sykes again spoke of how he felt these comments were unjustified and went as far to say the current bike is very similar to the model they raced in 2015, making Rea's “comment really not relevant”.
“For me that was quite a cheap comment and one that I didn't really expect,” continued Sykes. “At the end of the day it's a very similar bike that gave him his world championship last year. Obviously it struggled before on the Honda and he jumped on a well developed bike and was able to go racing.
“He has to be grateful and this new model is very similar. It has the same characteristics and it's not massive, massive changes. I was surprised at this comment but that's the game of racing for you. I think the development has been very good. I think the Kawasaki has been the most consistent bike on the grid for the past four years. That makes that comment really not relevant.”
While Rea has been using this test to tweak the machine's electronics in order to make it more user-friendly, Sykes feels his side of the garage has had to make less adjustments to find a good feeling.
When asked if he had been sampling engine configurations, he continued, “I think that's coming from the other side of the garage, who I think are a little bit more undecided and less clear on development if I'm honest. I'm very clear that the finished version of the ZX-10R is the best one.
“The other side of the garage are playing more and very undecided. For me it's a bike we've developed over the past few seasons and Kawasaki have done a great job with the bike. We'll continue to use this and focus on other things.”