New style will get me back on track: Jonathan Rea
Jonathan Rea says he has been working on re-adjusting his riding style on the Kawasaki following rule changes for the 2018 World Superbike Championship.
Rea and team-mate Tom Sykes' Kawasaki machines have been limited to a lower rpm limit than any other four-cylinder bike in the championship this year, which has affected the set-up of the ZX-10RR.
As round two of the championship began yesterday at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand, Rea ended the first practice session in an unfamiliar 11th place. However, he improved second time out into fourth before ending the day by setting the fastest lap in the third free practice session, 0.057 seconds ahead of Sykes.
"It feels good. Everyone's so close," said Rea. "I tried to ride the bike like I did last year, and with the final gearing and gearbox and rpm for this season it's a completely different bike.
"This morning I just had to re-adjust my riding style, so the last two sessions we made some inroads and I felt a lot better. But there's a lot more to come."
Race one is scheduled for this morning at 09:00 GMT after final qualifying, with the second race at 09:00 BST tomorrow. Rea added: "It's good information: from the start of a race distance to the end the times are really similar, but the bike's behaving in a completely different way.
"So, with the electronic set-up, different mappings I can change in the race, we can make some better changes."
The Northern Ireland man is third in the championship after finishing fifth and second at Phillip Island in Australia last month when he struggled with illness and a finger injury from a motocross training crash.
By contrast, Sykes was full of confidence ahead of Saturday's opening race and doesn't expect tyre wear to be the same issue it was in Phillip Island.
"We set a fast lap time and I am happy enough, even through the confusion of a cancelled lap," Sykes said.
"We had to use a new set of tyres after that, which was not in our plan of attack, but we still made a faster lap. Aside from that, the bike is really consistent and we have continued on from Phillip Island.
"We are definitely prepared for the first race tomorrow. The chassis is working well. I hope tomorrow we can find a little bit extra anyway."
Eugene Laverty led the way in yesterday's second practice session but dropped to ninth in FP3 after a crash with Spaniard Xavi Fores, escaping injury.
Meanwhile, Andrew Irwin from Carrickfergus is to make his World Supersport race debut for the CIA Landlord Insurance Honda team tomorrow.