Jonathan Rea has offered up his first impressions of the WorldSBK-spec Yamaha R1 after throwing his leg over the machine for the first time on the opening day of post-season testing at Jerez.
Just two days after officially bringing his record-breaking tenure with the Kawasaki Racing Team to a close during this weekend’s 2023 WorldSBK season finale at the Spanish venue, Rea was back on track again brandishing his new navy wares as a Yamaha representative.
After some initial nerves, Rea says he was pleased and relieved to get a new chapter to his career officially underway.
“Fantastic just to get the first laps on the R1, you always have a preconception of how the bike is going to be,” he told the WorldSBK website. “I have been super excited until this morning and then I got really nervous all of a sudden, you know, ‘can I be fast?’,
“I got comfortable but it felt strange. As soon as I exited pit lane, there were a lot of positives I could take from the bike.”
Joining Crescent Racing team-mate Andrea Locatelli, together with sister GYTR GRT Yamaha riders Dominique Aegerter and Remy Gardner, for two days of track action, Rea spent the day getting comfortable on his new ‘company bike’.
Despite an off - caused by slipping on a wet patch - Rea was able to turn in a modest 12 laps of shakedown during the morning session, before inclement weather conditions during the afternoon kept him boxed for the remainder of the day.
It was time enough for the Ulsterman to relish his first time on the R1 after such a long spell with Kawasaki.
“I’m fine. I got unsighted by another rider on track and just opened up the last corner to square them off and hit a wet patch. Christened the bike, unfortunately!
“One that’s easy to take because I got caught out by a patch and not something over the limit. I think there’s still a lot of margin with the bike. It’s user friendly which gives me a good feeling.
“I think this test is primarily about being comfortable. I asked not to test too many hardware parts, electronic parts. I want to come away from here understanding the R1, finding the limit of the bike with my style.”
Rea will succeed Toprak Razgatlioglu in the factory Yamaha squad following the 2021 WorldSBK Champion's decision to join BMW for the 2024 WorldSBK season. The Turk will make his first test on the BMW M 1000 RR in the first week of December.