sundaylife

| 16.4°C Belfast

Rea feeling positive ahead of championship return after strong testing sessions

 

Close

Jonathan Rea masked up as he prepares for the return of the World Superbike season later this month.

Jonathan Rea masked up as he prepares for the return of the World Superbike season later this month.

Jonathan Rea masked up as he prepares for the return of the World Superbike season later this month.

Jonathan Rea is primed to kick-start the defence of his World Superbike crown in less than three weeks' time following two productive tests in Italy and Spain.

The Kawasaki rider, who signed a new multi-year deal last month to stay within the Team Green fold in the Championship, followed up a two-day test at Misano in Italy with a further test last week at Catalunya near Barcelona, which is less than a mile from the team's headquarters in Granollers.

The fast and flowing circuit has been a regular fixture on the MotoGP calendar for many years, but will host the World Superbike riders for the first time from September 18-20.

Prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, the opening round of the Championship was held at Phillip Island in Australia at the start of March, where Rea began his quest for a record sixth world title in a row with a victory in the Superpole race - his 89th career WSBK success.

A condensed eight-round calendar is scheduled to resume at Jerez in Spain from July 31-August 2, before Portimao in Portugal hosts the next round the following weekend.

Rea - who was fastest at Catalunya from Ducati's Scott Redding as the test wrapped up on Thursday - said: "I felt good on the track, I felt good with the bike - much better than Misano.

"We changed the set-up of our bike a little bit in Misano and it seemed like it is working here as well. One of the biggest problems I had been struggling with is turning but now the ZX-10RR is turning really well.

"This is a new track for us, so step by step I've been learning the track, learning the limits, and we managed to be very fast and consistent. I did a race simulation in the afternoon in the heat and I felt pretty good," added the 33-year-old.

"We just chipped away and we didn't have any big items to test, so it was literally about learning the track and getting a feeling with it and the bike and trying to improve.

"We wanted to try and confirm the feeling we had at Misano as well and I felt like we did a pretty good job."

The five-time world champion enjoyed acquainting himself with the Catalunya circuit ahead of his race debut there in September.

"It's an easy track with beautiful, nice corners, but quite physically okay because you just flow with the bike when the bike is working," he said.

"We're going to try and improve the front traction of the bike so we just want to keep improving."

Toome's Eugene Laverty, who is facing a battle with Englishman Tom Sykes to secure the final seat in the factory BMW Motorrad team in 2021, was sixth quickest in the test.

Belfast Telegraph