Four-time world superbike champion showed no sign of letting go of his grip of the series after dominating the final European test head of the season start in Australia next month.
The factory Kawasaki star, fresh from topping the time sheets in Jerez last week, was once again on top at Portugal’s Autodromo do Algarve as he ended the two day outing almost a full second ahead of Yamaha’s Alex Lowes, with Ducati new boy Alvaro Bautista and reigning British champion Leon Haslam on the second Kawasaki.
“It has been a super-positive test,” said Rea. “We came from the Jerez test and I was still understanding the bike and the asphalt there. It made it difficult to understand the work we had done over the winter. But coming here we had quite a neutral platform to work with and a lot of data. Although the temperatures did not get into a perfect operating window it gave us a consistent effort over two days. We confirmed the chassis items we tested at Jerez, and electronically we worked a bit better. We started to work on our race performance. I was really happy with how I felt with a lot of laps on the tyre compared to last this time last year. I got to try a qualifier at the end of the day and that felt quite good and I was really fast with it. This test ticked every box, just a couple of little items we could have re-checked and gone over. But the priorities were done and we got to try some new Pirelli tyres as well.”
Team-mate Haslam, who is also backed by UK insurance specialists Carole Nash, did his best lap time on a harder race tyre and was happy with his week of testing. The Derbyshire rider added: “A good test for us and we made a step with the lap time. I made a 1’42.2 with a race tyre, which I was really happy with. I did not get any benefit from using the soft tyre mainly because with the first chance to go faster there was a red flag and for the second one I got rained on. I never really got a chance to go for one lap again. That was a little bit frustrating but on the race tyre times I was really happy. I made some good steps and tried a few things, including a different front tyre for the first time, which I felt was a bit better. We only had one of them so I could not put it toward an even better lap time. But I was consistently in the 1’42s, so I am pretty happy with things.”
Britain’s Tom Sykes was also in the mix on the new BMW S 1000 RR. The 2013 world champion ended up 1.289 seconds off Rea’s best time, in sixth overall, as the British based team showed off their new livery for the first time. Chaz Davies ended up 11th on the second Ducati, struggling with a back strain picked up in Jerez last week.
A number of world supersport teams were also in attendance at the test, with Frenchman Jules Cluzel (Yamaha YZF-R6) fastest, 0.573 seconds ahead of the MV Agusta F3 675 of Italian rider Raffaele De Rosa and 0.879 ahead of French Kawasaki racer Lucas Mahias.
The teams now pack up and head to Australia for the first round of the 2019 season, which takes place on the weekend of 22-24 February, and which is preceded by a two day official test on the 18th and 19th.
Portimao Test Day Two Unofficial Times:
- Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing WorldSBK Team) 1’40.855
- Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 1’41.814 +0.959
- Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’41.934 +1.079
- Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing WorldSBK Team) 1’42.144 +1.289
- Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 1’42.191 +1.336
- Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) 1’42.246 +1.391
- Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) 1’42.469 +1.614
- Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) 1’42.507 +1.652
- Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) 1’42.537 +1.682
- Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) 1’43.146 +2.291
- Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’43.361 +2.506
- Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) 1’43.834 +2.979
- Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) 1’43.950 +3.095
- Alessandro Delbianco (Althea MIE Racing Team) 1’44.885 +4.030