If you follow World Superbike, you will know that so far, Team Kawasaki Racing is leading in championship points—with Jonathan Rea leading and Tom Sykes following right behind in second.
We were able to snag a quick interview with Kawasaki's Team Manger, Guim Roda, and talk to him more about their team's goals and about their expectations for this weekend at Laguna Seca.
Q: As far as Laguna Seca goes, how do you and the riders feel about the track?
A: It’s really a nice track. It’s a technical track. It’s like an old school track in Europe—we like these types of tracks because it’s more afforded to the public. The newer tracks are spectacular, bigger than we need, and a dependable, safe track. But I think with good research on older tracks, we’ve been getting better safety and we work with this kind of bias. But with Laguna, it’s a nice area to enjoy the racing, especially for the public.
Q: I know they have only been practicing (up until this point when the interview was conducted), but so far, how has everyone been feeling on the track?
A: Good! They like this track…they have a specific bias, especially towards the straightaway with some bumps and coming up hill. In many areas, they like it. They enjoy riding the bike here…that was a big motivation for them and I feel that they both (Rea and Sykes) can be on top of their race.
Q: Speaking of Sykes and Rea, how are they doing?
A: This morning Tom was consistent, and he has a good rhythm. And Johnny is styling more for the rythym and he’s working to get down to his race pace to be in the front. So both can easily be at the top three or four.
Q: Is it safe to say you guys are on pace to do really well this weekend?
A: Yes, I really hope to. We have to fight with some of the Ducati and Aprilia guys. We expect a nice race and see how consistent we can keep the tires’ life for the race. I think that will be the secret of the race.
Q: For temperature and track conditions, what kind of tires to you run here?
A: Today isn’t hot. This makes it difficult to ride the bike because the less hot it is on the track, the less heat we have in the wheels. And you need this in order to go fast—it makes a big difference. We don’t expect it to be much hotter today than it was yesterday. So we need to rely more on the performance of the ride than on the tires, and I don’t know about tomorrow, but we are expecting higher temperatures. With cooler temperatures on the track, you can expect more competition between five or six riders. When the track is too hot, it’s difficult to manage, but with it less hot you can expect more riders fighting for the win.
Q: How are the bikes running so far?
A: Good. In the end, we don’t work much on big set up changes to the bike. Johnny and Tom started off with the base bike. Johnny may need to play more with the set up to adapt better and Tom just needs a small change to adapt, but not much. The base bike is working good—don’t need to get complicated changing the bike.
Q: What’s Team Kawasaki’s goal for the weekend?
A: Normally it’s always the same: To arrive to the track (Wednesday) and prepare everything work as well/fast as possible. First goal is to finish the race, always. Second goal is to have as much fun as possible. We never pressure our riders and tell them you must win a race. If it were to happen, if they had a good start, good first laps, then they have the option to win a race. But first goal is to finish, second is to have fun.
Photos by Jim Downs