Portimao WSBK Test - Sykes Tops Abbreviated Field After Two Days Of Testing

Kawasaki's Tom Sykes leaves the two-day official World Superbike test with his authority firmly stamped on the WSBK field. The Yorkshireman was nearly a quarter of a second faster than Aprilia's Sylvain Guintoli, and nearly four tenths quicker than his teammate Loris Baz. Marco Melandri was six tenths off the pace of Sykes, with the Ducatis of Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies setting the fifth and sixth best times.

Neither Sykes nor Baz had much to work on besides further perfecting set up of the Kawasaki ZX-10R. The development work was handed to EVO rider David Salom, who spent time developing the 2015 version of the bike Kawasaki will race next year. Despite the rule changes coming next season, the Kawasaki is still more closer to a Superbike than an EVO bike, Kawasaki manager Guim Roda told German website Speedweek.

At Aprilia, they several parts to test, but both Sylvain Guintoli and Marco Melandri managed to crash. Neither rider suffered serious injury, but Guintoli was forced to call it a day early after crashing towards the end of the session. Ducati riders Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies spent a lot of their time working their starts, a weak point of the Panigale so far this season. All of the riders got to evaluate new tires from Pirelli.

Prominent absentees were the Pata Honda squad of Johnny Rea and Leon Haslam, who are off to Japan to race the Suzuka 8 hours, and the Voltcom Suzuki pairing of Alex Lowes and Eugene Laverty. The World Superbike field now take an extended summer break, their next race coming on 7th September at Jerez.

Overall best times (all set on day 2):

Pos No Rider Bike Time Diff Prev
1 1 Tom Sykes Kawasaki 1:42.719    
2 50 Sylvain Guintoli Aprilia 1:42.954 0.235 0.235
3 76 Loris Baz Kawasaki 1:43.110 0.391 0.156
4 33 Marco Melandri Aprilia 1:43.315 0.596 0.205
5 34 Davide Giugliano Ducati 1:43.592 0.873 0.277
6 7 Chaz Davies Ducati 1:43.742 1.023 0.150
7 71 Claudio Corti MV Agusta 1:44.485 1.766 0.743
8 44 David Salom Kawasaki EVO 1:44.487 1.768 0.002
9 21 Alessandro Andreozzi Kawasaki EVO 1:44.924 2.205 0.437
10 11 Jeremy Guarnoni Kawasaki EVO 1:45.109 2.390 0.185


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Given that these are times of economic recession and that the higher capacity motorcycles are not selling too well, I do not see the point of World Superbikes not sticking to the production motorcycle rule, which was how they came into being. I think factories should be banned in WSBK and only those motorcycles which have been bought from an authorised dealer should be allowed. Let each team have a tuner but both the teams and the tuners should have no attachment to any manufacturer. Also the tuner should be able to increase performance by buying parts from the market. That is when WSBK will bring some excitement and it will be a huge incentive for privateers to return to racing. Even the peripheral involvement of factories usually scares privateers away because of the fact that factories have resources that privateers cannot dream of. If WSBK becomes privateers only series, the effect of this will be felt on MotoGP as well, where it can make a MotoGP class where manufacturers will be involved. It could bring back Kawasaki to racing with the big boys rather than sitting in a category where it becomes the big bully in a little children's group. The same can be said of Aprilia and Ducati as well. Let them make powerful road going bikes that will be attractive to amateur racers. That way both WSBK and MotoGP will have no conflict of interest.

It would be practically impossible to prevent de facto factory participation, which is one reason why Dorna stepped in to take over from the Flammini's.
If you allow the tuner to increase performance you will just re-open the 'arms race'. You cannot stop the factory or sponsors passing money or intellectual property, or both, to an 'independent' tuner or team.
A £12,000 Honda , Yamaha, or Suzuki is never going to compete with a £15k or £20/30k BMW or Ducati etc., and that is why Sykes rides a £100k Kawasaki with a huge team and budget to suit.

Amateur racers own and ride older or second/multi-hand bikes that do represent what you can buy from the showroom and with some added 'tuning' parts; some legal, some not. No-one complains if they are not winning. The term implies that they have a 'proper job' and families. There are very few people like that who can ride a bike and take most of the year off to pay for trips around the world's race tracks.

WSB deserves better and the new rules make a lot of sense. At least it's honest and people know a factory when they see one.
Professional riders deserve to earn a living from the series and be given bikes to ride that represent the best available technology within the rules of the sport.
Aprilia's powerful road bike is a great tool for road riders and racers alike. It doesn't sell very well though and, like the Panigale, it isn't that popular with racers for a variety of reasons - mostly that Kawasaki is the go-to bike because (probably) of all the trickle-down knowledge and tech from WSB.

Sometimes being a big fish in the pond (there are a few others of decent size) is very satisfying, and those other fish are not intimidated by the big green one. I would think more than twice about jumping from the WSB 'pond' to the MGP lake where the shark of HRC roams.

With new rules in WSB and big changes in MGP I would let them both settle down before saying it doesn't and cannot work.

Things are improving economically too - teams are announcing multi-year sponsorship contracts or early renewals in a number of series and it could look a lot worse.

Motomann, thanks for your elaborate reply. I guess I was seeing the whole thing in just black and white and so did not get the picture right. As I was reading your post, I began wondering as to how I missed such basic points. Thanks yet again.

"You cannot stop the factory or sponsors passing money or intellectual property, or both, to an 'independent' tuner or team ..."

Exactly. Thank you.

btw; at Laguna, pro AMA Superbike racers were deeply impressed by the factory Kawi WSBK Evo bikes. They are not cheap racebikes at all ...

a) for giving me something to write about.
b)for being graceful enough to accept it.

Your proposition makes a lot of sense if people play by the intent of the rules. The problem is , we are human.