Belfast Telegraph

McWilliams hails lightning-fast Rea

By Paul Lindsay

Reigning back-to-back World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea hammered a plethora of MotoGP and WSB regulars during the third day of testing at Jerez in Spain aboard his 2017 specification Kawasaki Racing ZX-10RR.

The Ulsterman's performance was even more impressive given the fact that he posted his fastest lap time on a tyre that he raced on back in October, leaving Glengormley's former Grand Prix race winner Jeremy McWilliams describing his former near-neighbour as "an alien" in a social media post.

McWilliams, obviously impressed by his fellow countryman's pace on used race rubber in the inclement Spanish weather, couldn't help but poke a bit of satire at Rea's rivals and those in MotoGP's premier class. He posted a second message that read: "I reckon JR needs a handicap, 20kg of lead on the bike or maybe just let him race in MotoGP on his Superbike!"

Rea, who will stay on at the Andalusian venue for a further two days with team-mate Tom Sykes and the KRT team, is - as we have come to expect from the double World champion - still looking for more from his new machinery, despite yesterday's impressive performance.

He said: "At a circuit like Jerez it's very difficult to test new engine components because we only reach fifth gear and not for very long.

"It would be nice to find a base setting here and save time throughout next year's race weekends. But I think we now understand the potential of the new bike and how to make a compromise, so everything seems quite in harmony."

Rea finished the day second quickest on the overall timesheets, just a tenth of a second down on MotoGP regular Hector Barbera on the Avintia Ducati, but a country mile ahead of his WSB rivals.

Welshman Chaz Davies, aboard the Aruba Ducati, was the closest WSB rider to Rea despite being some 0.7 seconds down on the Isle of Man-based Ballyclare ace.

The MotoGP regulars who were left in Rea's ZX-10RR wake included Loris Baz, Alvaro Bautista, Scott Redding, Aleix Espargaro, Michele Pirro, Danilo Petrucci, Bradley Smith and Jack Miller, who was a race winner this season.

Sykes was over a second down on his double World championship-winning team-mate, but slightly worrying for the Milwaukee Aprilia team was the fact that both Marco Melandri and Eugene Laverty were almost two seconds down on Rea's lap time.

They will certainly not hit the panic button, having had just three days of testing.

But with the winter break coming into play, they will have just a handful of tests over a six-week period to prove themselves competitive before the 2017 campaign's opening race in Australia at the end of February.

Belfast Telegraph


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