Rea, Neukirchner finish test at Valencia

In the final World Superbike track action of 2009, Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea set the fourth fastest unofficial time in a two-day test, which concluded this afternoon at Valencia in Spain.

Despite a small crash yesterday, the 22-year-old, who finished his debut WSBK season in championship fifth place, completed 190 laps of the 4.005km Ricardo Tormo circuit with a best time of 1’34.2s as he tested a combination of new swingarm, front forks and electronics on his 2009 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade.

The Valencia test marked Rea’s first track outing since his coronation in the ‘Kings of Wanneroo’ meeting in Perth, Australia last month where the Northern Irishman won all three races on a stock Honda CBR1000RR.

Also testing in Valencia was Max Neukirchner, Rea’s new Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team-mate for the 2010 season, continuing his familiarisation with the team and the Honda CBR1000RR – a process which started in October at Portimao in Portugal.

The German ace spent most of 2009 on the sidelines through injury but Neukirchner has been training hard and his current fitness levels are high enough for the 26-year-old to have completed 160 laps during his two days at Valencia, setting a best time of 1’34.7s.

Jonathan Rea Speaks.. Best Time 1’34.2s

We’ve had a really constructive couple of days here and got through a lot of work. We evaluated three sets of forks with different internal specifications, a slightly modified swing arm and some different electronics, so there was a big list of things to assess. What we didn’t get much of a chance to do was combine all the good things we found into one package and we were still working through things when Pirelli asked us to test the two new tyres they had. One of them felt pretty good, but we didn’t really have the right set up to get the best out of it. Overall, I’m really happy though, because it was a big workload we had to get through.

Max Neukirchner Speaks.. Best Time 1’34.7s

I’m really happy with this test, because it was really important for me to get more time on the bike and look for a good base setting. We only made some suspension adjustments and didn’t really test any new parts. I built up my pace slowly and only this afternoon did I really start to push a little harder when I had a good feeling and began to feel confident enough to open the throttle. This was only my fourth day with the team and I have not ridden very much since the crash at Monza in May. Of course, I still need some more time on the bike but I can go into the winter holidays with a good feeling now and continue my training, which has been quite intense recently. I did 160 laps here at Valencia and had no fitness problems; I might be a little sore tomorrow, but I’m feeling very good!

Ronald ten Kate Speaks… Team Manager

All the stuff that we needed to test here has been tested, and it was a lot of work to get through. The improvement from our race here in April is like the difference between night and day so it’s definitely been a good step forward for Jonathan, who has put in a lot of laps and worked really hard. We’re also beginning to find to clear direction forward with Max. We tested a lot of different settings so we will be able to narrow the window a lot more for him at our next test in Portimao in January. For now, we head back to our families in a very positive frame of mind and take this opportunity to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a very happy and successful New Year.