The Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki team are primed for an exciting opening round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship following the final test at Silverstone on Tuesday (9th April).
Glenn Irwin, who finished third in last season’s championship, struggled in the first session in the wet but got into his stride in the second session of the morning, clocking up a respectable lap time of 1:00.377s, just 0.543s behind Jason O’Halloran at the top of the table.
However, the 29-year-old from Carrickfergus slipped back into ninth and 12th in the final two sessions while the team experimented with different settings on the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR to try to find the right one.
“To be honest I was a bit disappointed with my performance today but there were some positives that we can take away and work on ahead of the championship opener in ten days’ time,” explained Glenn.
“We had a big breakthrough electronically, so it was nice to feel the difference in that area, and we now have a clear direction to go in ahead of the first round. I rode on a setting that worked for Leon, but every rider is different, so we just need to find a setting that works for me.
“It’s not uncommon to be in this position at this stage so it’s not a big worry. Overall, I feel good on the bike; I’m riding well and pushing the limits. We had a good team debrief after today’s test and the guys now know how to get to where we’re going.”
It was a different story for teammate Ben Currie who found his comfort zone for the first time since testing began in Monteblanco back in March.
The 23-year-old Australian, who is preparing for his debut season in Bennetts BSB, felt at home in the wet as well as the dry. He finished second in the first session, 0.931s behind fellow newcomer Xavi Forés.
And despite ending the day 15th in the table, 0.960s behind O’Halloran at the top of the timesheet, Currie was happy with his team’s overall performance.
“I feel like we made a huge step forward with the bike,” said Ben. “The tests in Spain gave a clear picture of what we needed to do, and the team worked hard to make sure that the bike was ready for Silverstone.
“I felt at home in the wet as well as the dry which is important as potentially there will be some wet rounds at the start of the season, so it was perfect to have the chance to get the bike dialled in.
“Competing in the Superbike class is a massive jump for me as it’s completely different, so I feel fortunate to part of such an experienced team. The Spanish test was a bit of a write-off for me; I had a couple of big crashes but now I feel like I can start to move forward.”
Road racer James Hillier was also out on the track, putting his Kawasaki ZX10-RR through its paces ahead of the North West 200 in May.
Team owner Pete Extance said it was good to have all three riders at the final test before the 2019 season gets underway.
“Tricky conditions this morning meant minimal laps for the riders in the first two sessions, but they were a little better in the afternoon,” explained Pete.
“James was using the short circuit practice to ready himself for the upcoming NW200 and IOM TT races and both Glenn and Ben were able to work on the setup in the final two sessions. They both left the circuit in positive moods and know the direction they want to head-in come Round 1 starting on Good Friday.
“That’s the testing done and now the whole team are looking forward to hopefully starting 2019 as we left 2018: at the top!”
The 2019 Bennetts British Superbike Championship kicks off over the Easter weekend (19th to 21st April).