COMPLEX START TO ROUND TWO
The Mandalika International Street Circuit is the host venue for the second round of the FIM Superbike World Championship and after the first day of action Jonathan Rea sits fourth fastest.
The track surface at the 4.3km long Mandalika circuit proved to be very dirty and ‘green’, due to lack of use and the circuit’s location so close to the seaside on the Island of Lombok.
It took some time for the grip levels to increase on the narrow racing line during Free Practice One, meaning Rea left it until the later stages of the first 45-minute track session to venture out and start the important work of finding an optimum race set-up.
Jonathan eventually finished up fourth fastest from all 22 riders, but he and his technical crew now have to find the best possible chassis set-up to make sure that his race tyres, particularly the fronts, can offer up competitive grip across full race distance.
The weekend action continues on Saturday 4 March with FP3, Tissot-Superpole qualifying and then the first full 22-lap race, which takes place at 13.30 local time in Lombok. Sunday 5 March will feature the always intense Superpole Race and then a second and final full distance Race Two.
Jonathan Rea said: “The track has no rubber down and is so dirty, so the first session was a disaster. Because of the tyre allocation we just had to be conservative. I chose to only ride the last part of FP1 and even then with our normal preferred front race tyre, we destroyed it. In FP2 we focused with a different weight balance of the bike, trying to take weight out of the front to save the front tyre. I think front tyres are going to determine the race outcomes. In comparison to last year, so we are focusing to improve in this area a little bit, but where our bike makes the time is in trail braking and corner entry. And if we don’t have a stable front, then it is so difficult. So we focusing to improve in that area tomorrow. Of course, I expect the track to be better tomorrow. There will be more rubber down and the track will be cleaner, which will help with front tyre life.”