Reigning World Superbike champions Kawasaki Racing pulled the wraps off of their 2017 ZX-10RR at the team’s launch party in Barcelona last night.

For the second season in succession, KRT come into the new year with the task of defending both the riders’ and manufacturers’ world championships after a dominant 2016. Armed with a new bike that has shown incredibly well in pre-season testing so far, both Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes are upbeat over their chances.

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Another incredible season in 2016 saw Northern Ireland’s Rea become just the second British rider in history to win back-to-back WorldSBK titles. Rea managed 9 wins across the year and took to the podium a further 14 times to clinch the championship in the opening race of the Qatar round.

Happy with how the pre-season has progressed so far, Rea is now itching to get the season under way in Australia as he guns for a record third successive WorldSBK title.

“It is really nice that every year KRT really pull out all the stops for our team launch,” the reigning world champion said.

“It’s nice to jump into my new leathers, see the finished bike and have so many other people around to share in the excitement of a new season. After celebrating the championship I have just refocused on testing since then. We have had such a productive off-season and now I am excited for the year to start.

Team-mate Sykes took to the top step of the podium five times in 2016 on top of 16 other rostrum appearances. Though initially worried that the new rules concerning throttle bodies and batteries may work against him, Sykes heads into the first round of the year aiming to hit the ground running after making progress in this area in testing.

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“There has been a lot of work and preparation put in during the off-season from everybody – it is getting to that time where will be flying Australia soon,” said Sykes.

“It is all going to start happening very fast and tonight is the beginning of that. I am hoping to go to Phillip Island and be very competitive in the opening round. I have been trying my hardest in the winter to adapt to the bike. I would like to arrive strongly in the first round in Australia.

The KRT duo will climb aboard their ZX-10RRs again on February 20 for two more days of testing at Phillip Island before the season gets underway just a few days later.