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Rea finds final setting which is 'much easier on the rear tyre'

Getting a seventh FIM Superbike World Championship trophy in 2021 is just as much of an ambition for Jonathan Rea and Kawasaki as getting his first one way back in 2015 was.

The ominous news for anybody trying to stop him over the next 13 rounds, which start at Motorland Aragon in less than two weeks is that he was easily the fastest rider when Kawasaki, BMW and Yamaha tested at Motorland recently.

With a new bike, seemingly improved from the evidence of winter testing, Rea is still not 100 per cent sure of raceday performance but he and his crew worked on their final race prep at Motorland.


“I felt quite comfortable opening the gas all testing,” said Rea of his bike’s throttle and engine response. “The only thing, when we got the new bike in November, the power character is a little bit different. So we have more power, more RPM. With more RPM, we’re more likely to try and use a shorter gear box ratio to use all the acceleration, but for me that’s still hard to ride.

“So together with Davide, Pere and KHI they’ve really developed some different electronic mappings and throttle feelings that I like. Today was about confirming that, trying to make evolutions with that and steps with that as well, back-to-backing. I always had a lot of modes on the dash to play with, to understand.

“Still a big learning day, today as well as yesterday and confirming some items. But we’re finishing with a package that I feel like the positive thing is we’re much easier on the tyre than we were last year. I was happy to do the time attack this morning and be really fast because one worry was that we weren’t pushing the tyre enough, but it seems like if I make a time attack or even push for a lap on the race tyre, the time is still coming. So that’s positive. So I think we’re prepared. I feel like also the rhythm I had here at the track was good. Not making too many mistakes. I feel as prepared as ever.”

The start to the season could not be more different from many previous ones, as the paddock is in Spain, not Australia, and it is now May not February. That has maybe led to more time to prepare and less apparent stress. Rea said of that idea, “I think it’s because it’s just dragged out so long.

“I think there’s a massive climax and you get to go on a big, long flight to Australia. When you get there, as soon as you land, and as much as it’s a beautiful place and it’s a holiday destination for a lot of the paddock, there’s still that tension. I think starting here, Aragon is really familiar to everybody. There’s not that also nervousness about tyre consumption, how the race is going to play out, because Phillip Island is a bit of a tyre eater.

“But I miss it, to be honest. I’ve never not started a championship… I think maybe the first year was in Qatar and then Phillip Island…. But it’s always been Phillip Island, so it’s strange. Aragon is familiar, so maybe that’s why everyone is so, easy.”

After winning at Motorland last season, at what most expected to be a Ducati ‘Red Wall’ track, and the Motorland then Teruel back-to-back race weekends at the same venue that proved pivotal to the championship race, Rea was asked if approaching Motorland now is a different prospect from 2020.

“Yes and no,” he said, “I think last year I got the best of myself and the bike to fight for the wins, in the Motorland and the Teruel race. Definitely wasn’t on expectation. Doesn’t mean that’s going to be the form this weekend or in a few weeks here. But I think it also gives me belief that even on weaker circuits, have an open mind and anything can happen. Fight to the end. Even lining up on the race that day, different people were on different tyres.

There was so much uncertainty, but it just came in the race. So I think that’s why I should not think about the outcome before it even happens. Just keep pushing and see what we can do.”

Rea has also changed his training regime back at home in Northern Ireland, during the long months of lockdown. “Yeah, quite a bit actually, with my trainer at home. At the start of every season I’m always at my lightest, but this year I’ve managed to keep the weight off and keep it consistent.


“Generally after the first team weigh-ins at the first race I sort of find my happy medium about 70, 71 kilos. This year I’ve been sub-70, which is good and easy to stay there. I started training at the same time as I would any other year, so I felt prepared early but then I had some down weeks. Then I got stuck into another block again. But I prepared well.

“My coach at home, Johnny Davis, he’s like a wealth of knowledge. I really trust him. Some of the things weren’t normal for me to do when I first started with him. Like lifting weights, for example. It’s always like a no-no for a motorbike rider to lift weights, and a lot of the aerobics training we were doing was different and more specialist. So another few tricks and little secret training things I’ve been doing over the off-season have helped.”

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