Kawasaki Racing Team’s 2019 line up of Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam completed a successful two-day test at Jerez in Spain with Rea the fastest WorldSBK competitor and Haslam third quickest.
On a partially resurfaced racetrack the opening day proved to be almost as much of a fact-finding exercise as a regular test at times. With new asphalt being laid in several corners, but not all, everyone had to take some time to adapt to the new feel and grip levels, as the track cleaned up with every lap the riders set.
With warmer weather and better track conditions present on day two both Rea and Haslam found improvements in performance and consistency, and each improved their personal best lap time.
Rea put in a 1’39.160 lap and Haslam a 1’39.502, with each using a normal race tyre set-up to post their best time.
With most of their WorldSBK competitors out together for the first time in 2019 at the 4.423 km long circuit in Andalusia at this test, it was an important one for KRT to measure where they are with the most recent version of the Ninja ZX-10RR.
Both sides of the KRT garage left Spain, for the next tests in Portugal, full of confidence and motivation after a positive start in their run-up to the 2019 season, which begins for real in Australia in late February.
The Portimao tests will take place on Sunday the 27th and Monday the 28th of January.
Jonathan Rea: “That was positive, very positive. I felt much better on the bike today and we found some good tyre consumption results. Yesterday the track was really green and I struggled a bit with that. Pirelli have brought some different tyres that we had to put in the plan today. Aside from that we just kept working with the chassis set-up and we found some big improvements. We are continuing to work with electronics but we are not doing too much fine tuning. We played around with wheelbase length a little bit. We had a clear direction in the last winter test and I preferred the bike a certain way. Here I just sacrificed a little bit of turning-in performance and that is what we tried to look for today, to make the bike a bit a little bit more manageable. I enjoyed today and started to ride with a smile on my face. Finding good improvements throughout the day kept motivation high and the track was in much better shape. I felt like over one lap, and in terms of consistent pace, we are in a really good place.”
Leon Haslam: “This test was really good. We made some big steps and played around with a lot of set-up and adapted my style quite comfortably. From a race tyre point of view I am really happy. I am a little frustrated because I messed up while using a qualifying tyre. I was less than a tenth off until the last split and then a made two mistakes on both the qualifiers that I used. So I was actually slower on the qualifiers, but the race tyre lap time was really positive. To finish third with a race tyre, I am really happy with that.”
Pere Riba (Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea): “As always in winter testing we are trying to prepare as best we can for Australia. Yesterday we tried some different areas of work, with the engine and the balance of the bike, but the track was not in a very good condition. The temperature was quite low and this affects the tyre wear a lot. Today the weather was better and we improved some points that we were looking for from yesterday. And we were also just getting information for Australia. From here we go to Portimao and we have to build the bike from the results of these two tests. It was positive all round – the lap time was good, Johnny made his lap time with the race tyre, and he was quite consistent with his lap times. At the end of the day we are happy.”
Marcel Duinker (Crew Chief for Leon Haslam): “I am very happy with the final result we have on the timing screens. To be that close to Johnny was our target and we reached our target. I am sure all the other guys around us used a qualifying tyre to make their best laps but we did it on the base tyre we have been using all winter, and the last part of last year. We made some small changes to the bike but most of the job was done by Leon, adapting to the bike and taking more performance out of it. I am sure that there is more to come. I am looking forward to the Portimao test and I am already thinking about the season opener. I am excited.”
Source and photo credit: Kawasaki Racing EU