SHAKEY’S NEW RI­VALS SHOW OMI­NOUS FORM

PBM/BE Wiser Ducati

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - BYRNE

While Shakey Byrne strug­gled with his Ducati Pani­gale at Carta­gena, most of his key cham­pi­onship ri­vals de­clared they had made good progress dur­ing the four day test. Fastest man on track at Carta­gena, Luke Mossey, was also rid­ing a new ZX-10R in Qu­at­tro Plant liv­ery but his

ap­proach was en­tirely

dif­fer­ent.

“We rode the new Kawasaki for the first time at Alme­ria last Mon­day and it

does feel very sim­i­lar to last year’s bike, ev­ery­thing just feels a lit­tle bit bet­ter,” the 23-year-old said after top­ping the lap times every day.

“We made some changes and have had a blind­ing week. Bike rac­ing is more in your head than any­thing and if you are a con­fi­dent rider you are go­ing to go into the cham­pi­onship feel­ing good.

“I am feel­ing com­fort­able with the bike and this is def­i­nitely a con­fi­dence boost for us so bring on round one!”

The win­ner of the last BSB race in 2015, Michael Laverty was so happy with the set up of his Tyco BMW that the team packed up early on Sun­day.

“We have achieved a lot over the last few days,” the North­ern Ir­ish­man smiled.

“We strug­gled on day one with edge grip but we tried some chas­sis set­tings and fixed that. I didn’t quite hang it out and get the re­ally fast one-off lap but my con­sis­tent pace over six or seven laps was stronger than any­one else and that’s what we have got to be hap­pi­est with.”

After a year of rac­ing and

LUKE MOSSEY

de­vel­op­ing the S1000RR the Tyco squad’s ap­proach at Carta­gena was more about de­tail than mak­ing some of the ma­jor changes the Ducati and Kawasaki squads were faced with.

“We have made the bike a lot more user friendly around here,” Laverty ex­plained.

“It is a tight lit­tle track so on a su­per­bike with no elec­tron­ics you have to have some­thing that you can pre­dict what it will do. Last year it was a bit of an an­i­mal but we have the power de­liv­ery re­ally smooth and the chas­sis re­acts good so I am leav­ing here re­ally sat­is­fied.”

It was a sat­is­fac­tion shared by his team-mate, Chris­tian Id­don who posted a 1 min 33.8 sec, just a tenth slower than Laverty.

“I al­ways take a long time to get go­ing after a win­ter break so the first cou­ple of days for me were more about prac­tis­ing than test­ing,” the 31-year- old said.

“I am in a lucky po­si­tion be­cause the bike is al­ready in a good place, both rid­ers were in the Show­down last year and I’ve got an ex­cel­lent rider on the other side of the garage.”

John Hop­kins was per­haps the hap­pi­est man of all leav­ing Spain on Sun­day evening.

The epayme Yamaha rider has fallen in love with the R1 and he is con­fi­dent he can em­u­late Josh Brookes’s 2015 per­for­mance and lift the cham­pi­onship on the Ja­panese su­per­bike.

“I’ve got a grin from ear to ear!” Hop­kins beamed after post­ing the sev­enth fastest time of the week.

“It isn’t a pri­or­ity for us to go out and set a blis­ter­ing lap but I have rid­den around a lot of top rid­ers.”

‘We made some changes and have had a blind­ing

week’

Sam Lowes showed in Jerez last week just why Jo­hann Zarco and Alex Rins have marked the Bri­tish rider down as a se­ri­ous ti­tle chal­lenger in this year’s Moto2 cham­pi­onship.

The 25-year-old lived up to the hype in the first of­fi­cial Moto2 test by clock­ing the fastest time on the fi­nal day and fin­ish­ing the three-day show­down in sec­ond po­si­tion over­all.

He might not have set the head­line grab­bing quick­est time, but no other rider could match the for­mer World Su­per­sport cham­pion’s fast and con­sis­tent long run pace on worn tyres.

Since his switch from the finicky and un­for­giv­ing Speed Up frame to the all-con­quer­ing Kalex chas­sis for 2016, Lowes has made it his pre-sea­son mis­sion to fo­cus on his speed on used tyres.

The cru­cial fi­nal laps are the pe­riod of com­bat where Zarco ex­celled last sea­son in win­ning eight races to be­come France’s first in­ter­me­di­ate class world cham­pion in 15 years.

Rins too is famed for his fi­nesse and sub­limely smooth rid­ing style that means tyre con­ser­va­tion for a late as­sault is a key weapon of the Spa­niard’s.

So Lowes’ abil­ity to reel off mid-to­high 1.42 laps for fun on worn tyres on the fi­nal day was just the tonic he needed after his first Kalex crash at turn five late on day two.

A lap of 1.42.267 on the last of a 15-lap dis­tance run on the fi­nal af­ter­noon was less than 0.2s slower than his best lap of the test, which was set on fresh Dun­lop rub­ber.

That pace would have not gone un­no­ticed by a strangely out of sorts Zarco, who was down in a per­plex­ing 14th, and Rins, who looked omi­nously strong in fourth at the end of the Jerez test.

Speak­ing to MCN, the Gresini rider Lowes said: “It is mint to fin­ish sec­ond but the most pleas­ing as­pect is how fast I am on worn tyres. No­body else did more than four or five laps to­gether in the 42s and I did a lot. The only time I put a new tyre in with­out a full tank of fuel was the last ses­sion when I set my best time. To throw in a one-lap flier is not re­ally an is­sue for me, the big­gest thing is my pace on old tyres.”

Lowes has seen his con­fi­dence rocket on the Kalex frame after a tough twoyear ap­pren­tice­ship on the Speed Up.

And he ex­plained why the Ger­man frame should help him be a po­tent force in Moto2 this year.

“The Kalex has such a wide op­er­at­ing win­dow, I can mis­takes and get out of it. I couldn’t do that on the Speed Up. I’d make a mis­take and the chances are I would crash. That’s a mas­sive dif­fer­ence for your con­fi­dence. And the big­gest thing is this bike is a lot eas­ier to ride over race dis­tance. That means at the end of the race you’ve still got some­thing more,” said Lowes, who won one race at Austin last year.

A stiffer swingarm made avail­able in Jerez only ce­mented Lowes’ love af­fair with the Kalex and he added: “It was good be­cause I felt I had more sup­port from the rear. Their goal was drive grip and it did im­prove that but it gave me a lot more sta­bil­ity un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion. The Kalex is a lot less phys­i­cal to ride and the new swingarm made it bet­ter be­cause there is a lot less move­ment.”

Never one to lack self-be­lief, Lowes was in such bullish mood that he said: “If there was a race here to­mor­row I reckon I would be the man and that isn’t be­ing big headed. I think the only guy that could go with me is Rins. I was on my A-game big style here.”

The reign­ing Moto2 world

cham­pion went AWOL, with a quick­est lap of 1.42.952 only good enough for a

shock 14th.

CARTA­GENA LAP TIMES

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