Rookie of the Year Tom Sykes put in a blistering performance during the final day of testing at Calafat in Spain, successfully rounding off Rizla Suzuki's three day pre-2008 season test.
Both Sykes and his new team-mate, two-time Japanese Superbike Champion Atsushi Watanabe, put in over 200 laps each at the 3.25km track aboard their Rizla Suzuki GSX-R 1000K7 race bikes in what the team has heralded as a very successful test.
Sykes obliterated the lap record for Calafat and out paced his team-mate by a second. The Rizla Suzuki men improved their lap times by a second from yesterday and were thrilled with their progress. This is the first time that Atsushi has encountered an undulating track as circuits in Japan tend to be super smooth. He handled the new circuit with aplomb, taking it all in his stride.Team Manager Jack Valentine said: "The test was spot on! The Rizla Suzuki team is happy and both riders are really pleased with the bikes. Everyone has worked so hard, it has been a very positive test."
"Tom was a second faster than Atsushi however he is more used to this type of track and was more confident with the bike when getting on the gas," he continued. "Atsushi was impressed with the bike he felt it was stronger than his Japanese Superbike. I was also very impressed with him, he had a lot to take on board and he did exceptionally well. He was very happy with the Engine Management System we were running, especially the engine braking. The Showa suspension worked well and both riders adapted to it very quickly. As that is the suspension used in World Superbike it opens up a whole new data bank which is useful now that we will be on Pirelli tyres."
Sykes said: "Overall it went really good. We tried a lot of different settings, made a lot of progress and improved on consistency. The test programme was very well structured too. Every time I ride the bike and the team make little changes it feels better and more like my bike. At the end of this test I am fast and consistent, I can't wait for the next test as I've enjoyed every minute of this one. We did a lot of laps and I still feel brand new so my training is working - Jack makes sure we get the miles in!"
With a new team, new bike and a new type of circuit to adapt to Atsushi was on a steep learning curve. "My new Rizla Suzuki team is very good; the mechanics are very friendly and easy to work with," he explained. "I was worried about the first time on a bumpy track but it was acceptable and not too difficult. Overall I am so happy and looking forward to next time and riding my Rizla Suzuki again."