Four-time champion Jonathan Rea (KRT) made a relatively sedate start at Jerez, but finally ended up fastest WorldSBK rider and just 0.008 seconds from MotoGP test rider Stefan Bradl (HRC), on a race tyre to boot.
“After a slow start, just blowing out the cobwebs and understanding the bike and this circuit,” Rea told bikesportnews.com, “we got back into the swing of things and I ended with a positive feeling.
“We ticked off the big items, the items we needed to do, so now we can go to Portimao and start thinking about our race set-up, performance testing and finishing those last few fine-tuning adjustments. It has been a positive test overall. It was not a priority for me to do a race simulation; it was more about confirming the items and moving on.”
Rea knows that seeing how your rivals are doing is the only real measure of how well your own project is operating, as you have to go and beat those other guys to win. But there is a limit to what you can tell right now, as not everyone is on the same page yet. And, choices still have to be made inside his team. “You kind of have a baseline of where everyone is at, albeit we are all on different strategies,” said Rea.
““We are really testing items, trying to yes and no things. Working for a factory it is very difficult when you make a wrong decision on a huge chassis component or engine direction, because that carries on all the season.
“So we have to be very clear and we are double checking things a lot. It is good to share the track with other guys. There is no false sense of security because you kind of know where you are. To be ahead in the timesheets after the first test, we are in a good place.”
With a new engine for 2019, but many other aspects of the machine remaining the same, Rea can feel a difference in performance.
“Yes, I am starting to feel OK with it,” said Rea. “I am starting to notice the extra revs we can have. We have some extra power, which is nice, because it seems like the last year’s we have had less and less and less power. This specification engine is a step better than we had last year, so it is a step in the right direction. It is just about understanding that really.”
With no rulebook yet and a new Kawasaki roadbike with a higher potential rev ceiling than 2018, Rea is as yet unclear what his 2019 initial rev limit will be, under the regulations. “I know what we are revving to now but I am not sure if there is a rule in place at the minute. I think we are following the formula that they have applied and if that is how it is, that is where we are.”