SHAKEY’S NEW RIVALS SHOW OMINOUS FORM
PBM/BE Wiser Ducati
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
“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
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
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