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Rea ‘surprised’ by speed and turning of Kawasaki WorldSBK aero package

Reigning WorldSBK king Jonathan Rea has admitted to being surprised by the aero package brought to winter testing by Kawasaki as it didn’t compromise in any areas.

Although the Irishman had been somewhat involved in discussions about the 2021 bike, he had believed any kind of downforce would affect top speed, but the engineers have managed to increase that too.

“Racing a superbike, we can’t just turn up with different fairings every week and development parts. Once it’s homologated that way, that’s what you got to race,” Rea told bikesportnews.com.


“You sort of race what you bring. They got it dialed. I tested some wings previously, last season, ’19. Then this season that feedback I’m sure was valuable. But I feel really good. I feel the front is planted, obviously for wheelie as well. We were quite surprised when we thought we might have to compromise some top speed because you’ve got a bit of downforce.

“So, when you put downforce to top speed, we were worried it could be worse. But then we were pleasantly surprised that our top speed is even better. I think aerodynamically Kawasaki have done a great job.”

Honda and Ducati have upped their game significantly in the speed stakes over the last two years, but Rea thinks they have something for the top-end kids now.

“We need to get on track and see to be sure. In Jerez we still hadn’t defined our spec yet that we’re going to start the season with. And Jerez is not the best test track for power because we only use five gears. But we went to Aragon and we could see some positive aspects of it.

“We’ve got a good testing plan pre-season as well, so hopefully we can uncover all the potential and it will be the step that we need but you never know. I won the last few seasons on a bike that wasn’t the fastest, but it sort-of taught us it’s not all about that. As a package we have one of the best packages.

“You could see other manufacturers can be strong in certain tracks or in certain temperatures or in certain grip levels, but we managed to get it dialed consistently overall. So that was good.

The engine’s different. We’re just scratching the surface because it’s the first test, so we can always make improvements. I think the new bike has new internals, I guess you would say. New internal components which will help us in Superbike and also give the bike more RPM as well. It’s really a step forward, not just cosmetically. I hope it’s exactly what we need.”

The aero solutions weren’t exactly a surprise for Rea, given the other work Kawasaki Heavy Industries undertakes. Like planes and power stations.

Kawasaki specialise in turbines. Motorcycles is such a small department inside the firm. So, I’m sure they leant on other businesses within the company to help them with that. They have an incredible wind tunnel on site.

“We still haven’t got the full spec yet because it’s still very new. But it was cool to see something new, especially for motivation as well. When I used to ride for my previous team, I used to try and find motivation in different color stickers or a new sponsor coming, when underneath the stickers there was generally no difference whatsoever.

“With Kawasaki, it’s pretty cool to be involved with a factory like them because they’re always trying to make steps forward. They’ve got superbike that’s one of their main projects in the motorcycle department. So that’s super cool. It was nice to finally get riding.”

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