The Italian got his hands on his new machine at Jerez and, despite limited running, was left with a smile on his face…
Axel Bassani (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) made his KRT debut on Tuesday at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto on the first of two days of testing. The #47 had made his desire for a factory seat clear after three seasons with the Independent Motocorsa Racing outfit, and he was able to achieve this goal following Jonathan Rea’s move to the Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK squad. The Italian was on track during a disrupted day In Spain as he finished in tenth place, and around six tenths back from teammate Alex Lowes.
THE OPENING DAY: the first goal at KRT…
As always when switching teams and manufacturers, the first task is to understand the team and the bike. Bassani has a new crew chief for 2024 as he works with Marcel Duinker, who was with Lowes previously but the #22 will work with Pere Riba this year. With track time limited on Tuesday due to rain which started falling at around midday, the #47 completed 27 laps – the second most of anyone – with a best time of 1’41.801s. That time was 1.964s slower than pacesetter Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), but only six tenths down on Lowes.
Reflecting on his first day, Bassani said: “It’s going well. I’m happy and I feel good with the team. We did some laps with the team this morning. It’s not easy to change but I feel good with the bike, and I enjoyed it. It’s completely different from the Ducati. Step by step, I’ll try to understand the new bike with no pressure. I don’t want to be really fast immediately, but I want to understand the bike and team really well and afterwards, we will see.”
SETTLING IN: new challenges await the Italian
Bassani is switching from the Panigale V4 R to the ZX-10RR and with it comes a new engine configuration. Previously on a V4, he’s now using an inline-4 engine which provides yet another challenge for him. He spoke about the differences between the two bikes, even after just a handful of laps on the Kawasaki, as well as another part of switching outfits he’ll need to adjust to.
“Everything is different. It’s a completely different bike,” he began, before making a typically humorous comment. “They have two wheels but they’re completely different! It’s okay, I like it. It’s good, I like the people inside the box. I feel good with my new crew chief. I have to speak a lot of English, which isn’t easy for me, but it’s good for learning!”
THE GOAL FOR DAY TWO: hoping for better weather
With the opening day resulting in limited running, everyone taking part in the test is hoping the weather improves to get a full day of action in. Although he didn’t reveal too much about the plan, Bassani explained what caused the most challenge on Tuesday and what he wants to do tomorrow. He said: “We’ll try to change something on the bike. I hope, tomorrow, the weather will be much better and also the track. This morning was really difficult to ride. There were a lot of patches of water on track.”