It took Kawasaki until last year to finally win a World Superbike manufacturer’s title. Having retained the crown in 2016, the Japanese factory will have to dig deep in 2017 in order to keep it.
Winter testing is a time to take stock of what worked well on your bike in the past, and what now needs now to improve. Kawasaki won over half of the races in the last three years, 39 victories from 76 races, but despite these successes the team is working hard to find improvements.
The final four rounds of the season saw Chaz Davies and Ducati dominate proceedings, and the Italian manufacturer’s renaissance over the last 12 months has made it the early favorite for title success in 2017.
New regulations will see split throttle bodies now outlawed, and there are also changes to the battery regulations. While Jonathan Rea has been running his bike in this specification for most of 2016 his teammate, Tom Sykes, has not.
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The second day of the Jerez test dawned in similar circumstances to yesterday. With dense fog and cool temperatures, it looked as though there would be sparse action on track, but almost immediately Ondrej Jezek rolled down pitlane.
With the Grillini team only running for half of the allotted time, Jezek was keen to get out and gain some experience on a World Superbike machine.
While the Czech was spinning laps, the majority of the field was biding their time for the conditions to improve. While yesterday the KRT riders stayed in the pits all day they did get some wet weather running today.
Come to Spain they said, the weather will be great they said…There are typically only a handful of valuable winter testing venues. Jerez in the south of Spain is one of the most popular.
Usually the winter sun provides almost perfect conditions for World Superbike teams to undertake their off-season programs. The weather was not co-operating today, and there was limited mileage for all of the runners.
The test did however offer the first glimpses of the Milwaukee Aprilia. Their partnership has been one of the biggest off-season talking points, and while Lorenzo Savadori and Eugene Laverty were unable to complete a lot of miles, they were at least able to start their tenure with the team.
With just ten days to go until the winter test ban comes in to force, on December 1st, teams in both world championships are busy doing their last tests and collecting as much data as possible to take into the winter break.
Testing is already happening on Monday, with some of the World Superbike teams gathering in Jerez. Kawasaki, the SMR Aprilia squad, Althea BMW, and Ten Kate (soon to be Red Bull) Honda are at the Jerez circuit, though the wet weather means there is little going on on track.
Ten Kate are without Nicky Hayden, who has twisted his knee while practice dirt track. The WorldSBK teams are due to stay for a couple more days, and will hope that the better weather forecast for later in the week arrives sooner rather than later.
The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR is a homologation special, through and through, with only 1,000 units (upgraded from the 500 announced in Germany) set to go into production worldwide. And now today, we learn that this special snowflake will come to the US market, as a 2017 model.
For those that don’t remember the bike’s INTERMOT release, the ZX-10RR comes with a bevy of engine upgrades, as well as a special “Winter Test” livery, up-and-down quick-shifts, forged aluminum Marchesini wheels, and single-seat riding accommodations.
The 2017 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR won’t be cheap though, with US pricing set at $18,899 MSRP. After the jump, we have some lovely high-resolution photos of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR going around my home track, of Portland International Raceway.
Jonathan Rea confirmed his status as one of the all time WorldSBK riders by claiming back-to-back crowns on Saturday, but in the final race of the season it was Chaz Davies who claimed the spoils.
For Davies, it was a seventh win in the final eight races of the season, and six in a row, but ultimately the Welshman came up just two points short of Tom Sykes in the fight for second in the standings.
Those final points came courtesy of a gift from Rea to his teammate.
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“It’s going to take time to sink in,” was the immediate reaction of Jonathan Rea, upon winning his second World Superbike title. The Northern Irishman has led the standings all year, but despite this, it has not been an easy title victory.
Rea has faced some challenges with his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R throughout the thirteen-round championship. A spate of false neutrals – including three at Donington and also one in Germany – robbed Rea of confidence and points at crucial junctures of the year.
As a result the champion said that his second title means more than 12 months ago.
“Honestly it is more special than last year,” said Rea. “In different way, this one means different things. Last year the championship was as a result of some amazing rhythm throughout the year. It wasn’t an easy season, but the championship happened naturally. This year was different and we really had to work hard for it. I had to really win this championship.”
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