Rizla Suzuki's Chris Walker and Cal Crutchlow both slashed more than a second from their lap times during the final day of testing at Almeria in Southern Spain, today as they mixed it with the other main British Superbike contenders.
Changes to the rear link and Ohlins shock allowed 'Stalker' and Crutchlow to make big improvements on the final of three days at the 4.3km-long twisty and fast circuit. As the previous days, the weather was warm and sunny, ideal for testing.
Based on unofficial lap times from all the teams, Stalker ended third fastest overall on a 1 minute 35.7s, just half a second down on the quickest rider, Honda's Jonathan Rea. Crutchlow finished a few 10ths slower than his team mate on 1min 36.3s to claim seventh.
Rizla Suzuki now travels to the nearby Guadix circuit for another two day test on Friday and Saturday.
"We are genuinely the only team at this test with two new riders who are not only learning new bikes, but coming to grips with new-generation Dunlop slicks for the first time as well. Bearing that in mind I think it has been a fruitful test and I am very happy with progress and the performance of my technicians.
"I was able to bite the screen and set a fast time that was encouraging - it has also given us a direction to follow at Guadix for further improvement. We will work on being consistently fast rather than just one-lap wonders, as that's what's needed to win races."
"We made loads of changes to the rear link on my bike and it paid off. At first the changes we made didn't work and then we tried completely opposite settings and found something that allowed me to go faster. It was a bit of trial and error but it succeeded and we now have a good stepping stone to continue improvement at the next test.
"I am the only rider at the test never to have visited Almeria before and to be able to string together a lot of consistent low 1min 36s laps I think is respectable. I am happy with how competitive we are and I'm looking forward to more testing."
Simon Buckmaster - Team Manager:
"It has been a very good test for us and pleasingly we are in the ballpark with the main BSB title contenders. We have completed many different chassis, suspension and tyre tests, while our engine performance and management has been almost flawless.
"There's a lot of work still to be done but we are getting through our test plan gradually and making significant progress every time we take to the track. What is very encouraging is that we set our lap times on soft race tyres rather than qualifying rubber; that hints there is more speed to come if needed but we didn't lose focus of the fact this is a test, not a qualification session.
"Chris and Cal both impressed with their speed and feedback to their crews. They know they are close to the competition and there is still a lot of unlocked potential to be released from their bikes, so they are happy. Morale within the team is high and everyone has gelled together as a unit; there is real motivation and desire to succeed driving us all forward."
Unofficial Test Lap Times:
- 1: Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:35.2
- 2: Leon Haslam (Ducati) 1.35.4
- 3: Chris Walker (Rizla Suzuki) 1:35.7
- 4: Gregorio Lavilla (Ducati) 1:35.8
- 5: Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda) 1:35.9
- 6: Shane Byrne (Honda) 1:35.9
- 7: Cal Crutchlow (Rizla Suzuki) 1:36.3
- 8: Tom Sykes (Honda) 1:36.5
- 9: Leon Camier (Honda) 1:36.8