As excitement builds for the first World Superbike race at Phillip Island this weekend, we take a look at how the top British (and Irish) riders have been getting on at the WSB test.
FIXI Crescent Suzuki – Leon Camier, 3rd
Leon Camier: "I just kept things really steady today to be honest! This morning was drizzling, so we didn't even make a lap and this afternoon we just had a few small things to try. We tested the harder tyres to see how long they would last and which would be the best tyre to run, if it is colder on race-day. We just cruised around really and didn't try to go for any lap-times this afternoon, it was all about confirming a few things and making sure the bike's feeling was right.”
Kawasaki Racing Team, Tom Sykes, 4th:
Tom Sykes: “I definitely used my injured arm a lot today because it has been sleeping. My crew chief has been doing a good job of waking it up. I know that the wrist has been knocked about and you can tell there is a crack in it, likewise the ribs are pretty sore, but I have every confidence in Kawasaki and all of the team. Big thanks to my crew chief Marcel and my team manager Guim because they made a very important call to make on Thursday after the accident. We have started to regroup now and be where we need to be. There is still work to be done but with six hours track time the boys have done a fantastic job, one that has made my life easier. I can get on and ride the bike and I am enjoying it. I had been a little bit tense due to the circuit catching me out a few days ago, but I finished well, with a lot of information. I am fortunate to have some clever people working with me and we have made up for lost ground. We did a lot of laps yesterday and felt OK when I woke up this morning.”
Pata Honda – Leon Haslam – 7th, Jonathan Rea 6th
Jonathan Rea: “It can be strange riding at Phillip Island, especially doing so many testing laps over four days. The conditions can change so dramatically – yesterday we had almost 60 degrees of track temperature and today it was less than 25. The wind changed going down the straight, from a tail-wind yesterday to being in our faces today, and the changing conditions can upset the chassis settings on the bike. Yesterday, I didn’t feel that good but today it was 100 times better. We’ve been trying to do a lot of laps on old tyres and we still have some tyre life issues to work on for the race weekend, but I think that’s a common problem up and down pit lane. The tests have finished positively, even though we didn’t get a chance for a maximum time attack. The guys in my crew have been working really hard to get the electronics set up to my exact liking, especially the application of the traction control, but we’ve learned a lot. We still have a lot to do for the weekend – it’s clear that, if we want to go fast on a new tyre, we can, but Phillip Island isn’t about that. It’s about still having a good tyre on lap 22, so there’s still some work to be done.”
Leon Haslam – 7th
Leon said: “Our testing has been frustrating at times and in Jerez last month we lost the first day to the weather and the second day with some electronics teething problems. I think we made more progress in the first three hours here at Phillip Island than in two days in Jerez, so these two tests here have been really important. We haven’t progressed too much more today because we had a problem with the weather this morning and still had some gremlins with the electronics. But we’ve found out what the problem is and, even with the bike cutting out intermittently all the way round my best lap this afternoon, I still managed to do a decent time. We’ve still got more work to do and more things to try but now we go in to Friday looking for a set-up that will make the tyres last on race day. I’m happy to be in that position and, if all goes well, we can maybe try some of those new things, but the priority now is race set-up and tyres.”
Aprilia Racing Team, Eugene Laverty, 8th
Eugene Laverty: “I think we’re ready for the race weekend. The tyre life is going to be the most important thing, but we’re still a long way from Sunday so we don’t know what the conditions will be. The Aprilia seems to be working, in my opinion, better than any other bike here for the balance, I’m positive we can start the season with some good results”.
Note: No press quotes available at time of writing from Chaz Davies.