Honda Racing's Jonathan Rea is under no illusions about how difficult it will be to beat Carlos Checa at this weekend's Phillip Island World Superbike opener but the young Irishman has some setup tweaks still to bring into play after the two-day test.
Rea set the overall fourth fastest time on the new Fireblade but says tyre choice will be crucial because of changing track temperatures at the Australian circuit. He has tried a hard rear spring with a worn Pirelli which seems to give him enough grip for decent lap times but the scorching afternoons may bring other factors into play.
"It’s been really good to get out on track with our rivals at this test because during our winter testing – in Qatar in December and here last month – we’ve been on our own. We’re where we kind of expected to be and we know that to win here is going to be a very big task. Carlos [Checa] is riding very well and consistently but we’re still changing things on the bike because I’m still not 100% satisfied with the set-up," said the Isle of Man resident.
"It’s been really good just be on track with the others though, and I’m really enjoying riding bike. I can really feel what the bike’s doing and the electronics are working really well. I’m looking forward to a couple of days off now before we go into Friday’s sessions. We found a bit of a direction with a harder rear and, although the tyre choice in this test has been clear, the race weekend is going to be different again.
"We played around with springs towards the end of that final session and I was able to lap OK with a harder spring, even when the tyre was worn. That’s a positive and so it’s what we’ll take into Friday morning and move into the new season from there."