Rea positive after first tests on new Kawasaki
Jonathan Rea and British Superbike champion Leon Haslam have completed their first winter test session on the updated 2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR at Aragon in Spain with the four-time World Superbike champion going fastest of all the riders in attendance with a stunning 1 min 49.668sec lap.
The final day of the two-day test was cut short by wet weather with the 2019 Kawasaki World Superbike Championship Racing Team line-up of Rea and Haslam deciding not to take part, having completed 139 laps between them on day one.
Rea's time lay down an early marker that the rest had to chase including Chas Davies who gave the all-new Ducati Panigale V4 R its debut.
Rea said: "The first impressions of our new ZX-10RR were positive after back-to-back tests with the 2018 bike on Wednesday and the potential is much higher with the new machine. We put in a few 1:49 fast laps although it wasn't about time attack mode.
"We need to delve into more set-up changes and that will require more time. We didn't test yesterday due to the wet weather and we now look to Jerez in 10 days' time and another two-day test before the winter break.
"We will continue to take it step-by-step, but so far everything has been positive."
Further afield, twice Macau Grand Prix winner Peter Hickman (BMW) secured provisional pole position for tomorrow morning's race following a 2mins 25.429sec lap (94.625mph) in first qualifying, a second ahead of record eight-time winner Michael Rutter (Honda RC213V), with 2019 International Road Race champion Danny Webb over a second and a half back in third position riding the MGM by Penz13 BMW.
Best of the Irish runners was Derek Sheils in eighth position on his MGM Penz13 BMW, almost four seconds behind Hickman's time around the 3.825mile Armco-lined street circuit.
John McGuinness (PBM Ducati) in his first competitive Superbike outing since his 2017 North West 200 practice crash was ninth fastest.
Davey Todd, who had a tremendous 2018 season on the John Burrows Cookstown BE machines, was 12th fastest on his Macau debut riding a Penz13 BMW.
Michael Sweeney, from Skerries, was 14th fastest on his BMW while Magherafelt's Paul Jordan on his event debut was 15th fastest on his Dafabet Devitt Racing Kawasaki.
Yesterday's free practice session was hampered by red flags after Manx newcomer Andy Dudgeon crashed out and then Spaniard Raul Torras was involved in a high-speed accident that saw his R1Yamaha on fire in the middle of the track as he was attended to by officials before being transferred to hospital.
The 12-lap race is scheduled for 7.55 GMT tomorrow morning, with Hickman the clear favourite.