WSBK – Sykes starts on the top

Posted on February 13th, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Most of the top riders in the 2012 WSBK championship took the chance to test a few days before the official IMS tests and of them all Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) was the fastest on the opening day. The British rider scored a blistering 1’33.0 lap time, riding on a soft race tyre.

In second place in the rankings – according to himself at least – Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) set a 1’33.3, but according to some sources in his team he was just as fast as Sykes, with a 1’33.0.Many of the top names were in the top rankings as per normal, with new Aprilia boy Eugene Laverty setting a 1’33.3, just a tenth faster than his old team-mate and new BMW Motorrad Motorsport man, Marco Melandri.

Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing) and Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) set identical 1’33.7s, with Jakub Smrz (Effenbert Liberty Racing Ducati) scoring a 1’34.0. Local rider Dave Johnson (BMW) set a 1’35.7 with more to come as he gets his bike dialled in for SBK racing.

Sykes, speaking of his good pace (having set over 20 laps inside the 1.33 bracket according to his team) said: “We were just working on bike balance, getting it all dialled into the circuit, just relaxing and enjoying it. I was happy that we were showing good consistency. I did not do a full race run but we did use the same tyres for a long time.”

John Hopkins (Crescent Fixi Suzuki) had an early crash at the exit of turn two and suffered a suspected fracture of a bone in his hand, just behind the right ring finger. Hopkins was already recuperating from an operation in which he lost two knuckles from this finger. He is awaiting more tests to see the real extent of the damage, but he is not going to ride again at these tests at least.

Max Biaggi and Maxime Berger had a collision with each other earlier in the day, Davide Giugliano also fell from his Althea Ducati, all without significant injury.

Track conditions were good at PI, with the wind getting up a little in the afternoon, but the appearance of large waterfowl on the track caused a moment of real worry for Checa. He came along the main straight to find two ‘large animals’ as he called them, and he had to pick a gap in the middle as he passed between them at around 300kmph. The tests have two more days to run.
Best Times – Day One:
1. Tom Sykes 1’33.0;

2. Carlos Checa 1’33.3;

3. Eugene Laverty 1’33.3;

4. Marco Melandri 1’33.4;

5. Leon Haslam 1’33.7;

6. Max Biaggi 1’33.7;

7. Jakub Smrz 1’34.0;

8. Sylvain Guintoli 1’34.1;

9. Joan Lascorz 1’34.1;

10. Maxime Berger 1’34.3;

11. Michel Fabrizio: 1’34.4;

12. Leon Camier 1’34.5;

13. David Salom 1’34.9;

14. Ayrton Badovini 1’35.0;

15. David Johnson 1’35.7;

16. Davide Giugliano 1’35.8;

17. Lorenzo Zanetti: 1’37.1;

John Hopkins No time given/crash