First Steps to Title Defence At Jerez For Jonathan Rea
Jonathan Rea completed a busy two days of testing at Jerez on board his all new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, finishing with a lap time comfortably within the top ten. The reigning World Champion finished the test with the seventh fastest time, less than a second behind team-mate Tom Sykes, who set the fastest overall time of the test.
The Kawasaki Racing Team are making the final preparations ahead of the 2016 season which starts at the Phillip Island circuit in Australia in one months time. Rea and Sykes themselves had arrived at the Andalucian circuit straight from the global launch of the new Ninja ZX-10R showroom model in Malaysia.
The track surface was damp on the first morning of the test and the second day dawned with a thick blanket of fog over the circuit. Track action on both days therefore didn’t start till lunchtime but it didn’t prevent Rea from clocking up 122 laps across the two days.
Rea chose not to use a rear Qualifying tyre at this test and also departed from his normal routine, making lots of short runs instead of his favoured race distance sessions. The team and his crew are still working on base setting for the all new Ninja ZX-10R and the short runs allowed them to evaluate a number of different changes to the chassis set up and engine characteristics.
The entire KRT squad will now move right across Spain to make their final European winter tests at the Motorland Aragon circuit, between 3 and 4 February. The first races of the year take place in over final weekend of February, under the new format of one race on Saturday and the second on Sunday.
Jonathan Rea stated: “It is clear that the new bike has been developed more for another riding style and it asks you to ride in a certain way. So we are still exploring exactly how to extract the best out of the bike and we have changed many things. It was clear that when we arrived here the track grip level was much worse than the last time, so it required a little bit of a different set-up. Our testing philosophy this winter - testing big items and not getting carried away with the set-up - has really made sense here. It was the same track, same part of the world but a different character this time. We had a new fork specification to try and a different engine character. We are just using the tools in the toolbox now and understanding more about the new Ninja ZX-10R. We have been working calmly and methodically and if the starting lights went out at Jerez tomorrow we would not be seventh.”
Pere Riba, Jonathan Rea’s Crew Chief, stated: “Winter time is to understand the bike and its reactions to changes and different situations. It gives the rider time to understand different things and time for us to follow our test plan. This is a new bike and there are still important points that we are looking to understand it more, to find out what the best base point is. This also relates to the track grip and these two days have been useful because the grip this time was not so good. That lets us understand how to make improvements in case we have these conditions in the real race. We have been working with tyres that have done over 20 laps just to comprehend where we are. We did not make a long run, a race simulation, but we did many laps. The important thing is to arrive in Phillip Island for round one with a good package in many different situations.”