Tom Sykes says topping the times at the official World Superbike test at Aragon is a huge boost after a race weekend blighted by illness and performance issues which saw him lose further ground in the world title chase.
The Kawasaki Racing Team rider was unable to match the unrelenting race pace produced by team-mate Jonathan Rea and Aruba.it Racing Ducati's Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri so ended the race weekend with third and fourth place finishes – slipping to 54 points off championship leader Rea.
Looking to make amends at the one-day test focusing primarily on chassis and suspension settings, Sykes produced the fastest lap of the test with a 1m 49.368s on race tyres – all the more impressive as Davies' pole time from the weekend using Pirelli's qualifying rubber was just 0.049s quicker.
“I did not use a qualifying tyre and that is what makes me happy,” Sykes said. “The standard race tyres performed incredibly and the bike was working nicely. I am still feeling a bit second hand, although I had a slight improvement today on my stomach problems.
“It is amazing how even with such a small improvement I feel night and day better, physically, on the bike today. I did not intend to do that many laps but I was enjoying myself and overall it was a nice test.”
Sykes feels he's made significant set-up gains to his Kawasaki ZX-10RR on race pace and is happy to leave Aragon on a high after a tricky race weekend.
“We made so many small changes to the bike, working hard with Showa, and I am happy with the progress,” he said. “We are always learning, always improving.
“Today the track was in great condition and the Ninja ZX-10RR was working really consistently. It puts a bit of a smile on the end of a difficult weekend.”