Fast Opening Day For KRT Duo2018-03-23 11:10
The intense 4.554km long Chang International Circuit has been a happy hunting ground for the current KRT riders, who have won all the previous WorldSBK races in Thailand between them.
After recent rule changes that limit Kawasaki to a lower maximum rpm limit than any other four cylinder machine, adjustments had to be made to the overall bike set-up of each rider as the day progressed. The result of this hard work saw Rea and Sykes respectively 1-2 in the pre-Superpole rankings.
Rea managed to complete a strong race simulation in FP3 and feels 100% fit after illness and a finger injury affected him on the opening weekend of the season in Australia, held one month ago.
Sykes was on course to record his best lap time relatively early in FP3 but was penalised for a yellow flag infringement following an accident between two other riders. With his class-leading lap finally discounted, he then had to go out and do a second fast lap, which took him to within 0.057 seconds of his team-mate Rea.
The contest for automatic Superpole 2 qualifying positions was particularly intense on day one in Thailand, with the top ten riders covered by only 0.528 seconds after all three 40 minute sessions had been completed.
Now the KRT riders face a 20 minute-long FP4 session on Saturday morning and then Superpole 2, which will determine their grid placings for the first race of the weekend. Race one, to be held over 20 laps, is scheduled to take place at 16.00, local time in Thailand.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “It feels good and the times are so close. Today I just worked through some set-up changes, arriving step-by-step at a good pace. In the last session today, which was held at the same time of day as the races will be, we decided to do a race simulation. I was very constant, not really fast, but constant to the end. We need to find a little bit more I think, for tomorrow. I tried to ride the bike like I did last year but with the final gearing, gearbox and rpm for this season, it is a very different bike. This morning I had to readjust my riding style so in the last two sessions we made some inroads and I felt a lot better. I have the information from the race simulation now, and it is good information.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “We set a fast lap time and I am happy enough, even through the confusion of a cancelled lap. We had to use a new set of tyres after that, which was not in our plan of attack, but we still made a faster lap. But aside from that, the bike is really consistent and we have continued on from Phillip Island. We are definitely prepared for the first race tomorrow. The chassis is working well. I hope tomorrow we can find a little bit extra anyway. Even in the hot conditions this afternoon, in both afternoon sessions, I really had a good feeling and feedback from the bike, even when the tyre drops. I am feeling really confident and optimistic for tomorrow.”
2018 KRT Rider Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016 & 2017
2018: Races 2, Wins 0, Podiums 1, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 54 (39 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 113 (71 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 14 (10 for Kawasaki)
Tom Sykes: World Champion 2013
2018: Races: 2, Wins 0, Podiums 1, Superpoles 1
Career Race Wins: 33 (33 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 101 (100 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 43 (43 for Kawasaki)
5 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016 & 2017), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
3 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017)
3 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016 & 2017)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 109 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 350 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 74 – second overall
Source: Kawasaki Racing Team
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