TESTING ENDS AS NEW SEASON ARRIVES
Jonathan Rea completed the final two days of pre-season WorldSBK testing at Phillip Island today, finishing 5th fastest overall. The first round of the 2023 season will take place at the circuit on the coming weekend, February 24-26.
The 4.445km long Australian circuit near the ocean delivered warm and dry weather as the 22 WorldSBK riders made their final preparations to meet the challenge of the opening round. A stiff and gusting breeze from the sea complicated things on the final day, with the best track conditions for outright grip appearing to be in the morning session.
With some upgrades to the Ninja ZX-10RR this season Rea worked towards maximising performance in real race conditions, and ensuring that the tyres will last a full race distance at the toughest circuit on the calendar in terms of tyre wear.
Rea had relatively slow falls at Turn Four on each day of testing but carried on at a strong pace after pitting to make repairs. He completed 38 laps in the final afternoon test session, but his best lap of 1’30.716 was set in the morning of the final day.
Attention now turns to the start of the 2023 season itself, with the opening round at Phillip Island this coming weekend. As ever there will be three WorldSBK races for the spectators to enjoy - two full-distance races and one ten-lap Superpole Race on Sunday morning.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “Today we tried a 2022 spec bike versus the 2023 spec bike in the afternoon session. There are positives and negatives with both but I preferred to stick with the 2023 bike. Unfortunately, doing a race simulation, on about lap 14, I got caught out in Turn Four. The wind was very gusty and it is coming in strongly from the sea, and I was pushing at my limit - clearly. I had very positive sensations during that long run and I was able to stay in the 1’31 laps times. That pace is where I need to be to fight for the podium. After that we tried the SC0 rear tyre because Pirelli asked me to do a longer run to evaluate how it would perform in the Superpole race. Our tyre performance was good and from an electronics point of view I am really happy with the steps we have made inside the team. I am more satisfied with the bike than yesterday. Clearly there is potential with the new bike and we have to keep working to extract that potential. We have made a step compared to last year, I feel. For race weekend, I feel we can fight for the podium.”