Belfast Telegraph

Jonathan Rea confident he is on right track ahead of quest for fifth crown

 

Looking good: Jonathan Rea
Looking good: Jonathan Rea

By Roy Harris

Four-time champion Jonathan Rea of Kawasaki finished in third position after the opening day of a two-day test at Phillip Island ahead of the first round of the 2019 World Superbike Championship this weekend.

The Ulsterman was less than half a second behind pacesetter Alvaro Bautista on the all new Ducati Panigale V4 and Alex Lowes on the Pata Yamaha.

Rea also overcame a crash at turn 10 yesterday in which he escaped unscathed.

He said: "We worked at trying to find a good base setting for this unique circuit that requires a different riding style to most. In the afternoon the wind picked up and made it difficult, but it is so far, so good. We know where we need to be improving."

Bautista's lap time is an early warning that the ex-MotoGP rider is not in WSB just to make up the numbers.

Rea added: "The race this weekend is going to be very tough, as Phillip Island normally provides very close racing on Saturday and Sunday and we also have the new three-race format to work with. Anybody can win and not necessarily the fastest man on paper. We really need a few races into the season to see where everybody is."

Rea's new Kawasaki team-mate, BSB champion Leon Haslam, chose to test his tyre selection yesterday and came home in eighth position.

Lowes finished yesterday's test in second position, 0.403secs behind Bautista, with the Yamaha looking an incredibly competitive package so far.

Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven Ducati V4) continued developing the bike he only received in late January.

The Toomebridge man focused on base set-up and improving feeling from the rear of the bike to make the back tyre work to his liking, ending the day down in 16th position.

The action continues in the early hours of this morning.

Belfast Telegraph

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