CHAMP REA OUTSHINES GP STARS AT JEREZ
Jonathan Rea put the cat among the pigeons at Jerez last week as he topped the timesheets at a rare joint World Superbikes and Motogp test.
Rea and his Kawasaki team, along with numerous WSB rivals, were joined at Jerez by a handful of Motogp outfits, including Pramac Ducati, Aprilia and KTM, but the Northern Irishman outpaced all of his GP peers with an imperious lap time that would have put him on pole position for this year’s Spanish Grand Prix.
It wasn’t just his one-lap pace that was strong, either – the Ulsterman put in two solid race runs on Thursday and was able to lap almost as quickly on race rubber.
“My rhythm here is quite fast,” he told MCN. “The single biggest thing I will take away from the test is how fast we were able to be with race tyres.
“On Thursday I did two long runs. We have confirmed a lot of things with the transmission and the new rear shock that Showa has. It is clear that that is a step forward.”
Rea wasn’t the only WSB rider to outpace the GP boys, with Ducati’s Chaz Davies third on the combined timesheet and Tom Sykes fifth quickest overall. This comes in spite of the fact new regulations for the WSB championship for 2017 onwards mean the machines are much closer to the production models they are based on.
While the times were a cause for celebration, Rea remained focused on the job at hand. The reigning champion has identified two key areas to work on improvements with his KRT crew over the winter.
“We’ve been putting the package together a bit,” he said. “We’ve been trying to look for tyre life and engine power is our priority for the winter, and we seem to have found the tyre life quite quickly. Our power is a little bit better, but we are still looking for more.
“There are so many other areas to improve. We’ve been making small steps forward in electronics, but I feel like we need to achieve a base setting with the bike because last year we were changing so much in between practice sessions and races, and that complicated things a little.”
The Jerez test also marked Eugene Laverty’s return to the WSB series as the Milwaukee Aprilia team rolled out the RSV4 for the first time after their switch from BMW. Laverty and young Italian team-mate Lorenzo Savadori placed fifth and eighth out of the WSB boys on Wednesday before the SMR team packed up after their three days on track. The Irishman was happy with his first test back on the machine with which he took all but three of his 13 WSB victories.
Britain’s Alex Lowes enjoyed a strong test for the PATA Yamaha team as he turned his focus to longer race runs as he tested various new components on the YZF-R1, while new team-mate Michael van der Mark spent the test familiarising himself with the bike.
‘ The biggest thing I’ll take away from here is how fast we were able to be on race rubber’ JONATHAN REA
Rea wasn’t just the quickest WSB man at the test, but quickest overall