Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea had a rollercoaster day at Phillip Island as WorldSBK completed the first Friday practice of 2023.
Fifth in the combined times thanks to his FP1 1’31.304 lap, Rea’s afternoon pace dropped off due to rising Australian summer temperatures heating the track to a toasty 47℃. His 1’32.144 best in FP2 left him 14th in the session standings and with work to do ahead of Saturday’s all-important action.
“This morning I felt quite positive, to be honest,” Rea said from his second home. “When I reviewed the first session I felt there or thereabouts; fighting for the podium positions. Very solid and our pace was good.
“As soon as the temperature crept up and I did my first out in FP2, I didn’t feel good with the bike at all. I had zero edge grip.
“We tried a small setup change to go back. We were trying something, and we were curious to go back and check our base setup. Even with our base setup, I had zero grip. We weren’t pushing the tyre, the tyre wasn’t in range of temperature or pressure. It’s also true that our bike isn’t working great on the edge of the tyre. We need to make the bike turn more naturally. That’s going to be a priority tomorrow.
“When I launch the bike into the corner, I need it to track around the corner and not to use the rear or to slide and correct the line. This is wasting the rear tyre.
“We’re looking for edge grip tomorrow and some turning. We’re not far. We will put everything together, understand what happened and try to make a plan for Saturday and race one.”
A changeable weekend forecast, often the case due to the Island’s unpredictable nature, could provide the answer for the Northern Irishman but with sun expected at least across the morning, Superpole could prove a challenge once again.
“I would prefer cooler conditions for the race,” Rea admitted. “Last year the tendency was that we struggled more in hot conditions. I want to forget this session a little bit and I would prefer a cooler race tomorrow. It looks like it’s going to be really hot until after lunch. I don’t think the track is going to be like it was today, 48°C, but it is still going to be very hot.”