2017 World Superbike: Reigning Rea Tops Final Preseason Test

2017 World Superbike: Reigning Rea Tops Final Preseason Test
Kawasaki's Jonathan Rea

2017 World Superbike Final Pre-Season Test

2017 World Superbike: Reigning Rea Tops Final Preseason Test
Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea

The final preseason WSBK test concluded Tuesday at Phillip Island in Australia, which will host this weekend the opening round of the 2017 World Superbike Championship (February 24-26).

The two-day test opened with some issues due to changing weather conditions, and only 11 riders got onto the track. When Monday’s WSBK test session ended, Barni Racing Team Ducati’s Xavi Fores led ahead of Kawasaki Racing Team’s Jonathan Rea.

But conditions were more favorable on Tuesday, and Rea, the two-time World SBK reigning Champion, held nothing back. The Northern Irishman ended the day with a best lap of 1:30.545, finishing 0.030 of a second ahead of newly signed Aruba.it Racing Ducati pilot Macro Melandri, and 0.318 ahead of Melandri’s teammate Chaz Davies.

“Now we have picked the bike we will use for race weekend and put the package together,” Rea says. “I have had such a good off-season; I feel I have done a really good job with my personal condition and I have managed to stay healthy so far. Every winter test we’ve done we have been working step-by-step.

“We understood at the end of last year, when we made a huge change for Qatar, I could race the bike again. So during the winter tests it was not about re-inventing the wheel. Already the ZX-10RR has given us some more potential. We were already at a high level. This winter was about building the package, building momentum and confidence. Now I feel like I have it so I just hope we can stay safe and bag some big points at the start of the new season.”

Ducati's Marco Melandri at Phillip Island World Superbike Test

The 2013 World Superbike Champion Tom Sykes finished the test in fourth, 0.499 of a second off the pace, despite suffering a crash just four minutes before the close of the session. The Brit walked away unharmed.

The man who lead Monday’s session, Fores, finished fifth, 0.681 of a second off the pace (set Tuesday morning), making for three Ducati 1199 Panigale R superbikes in the top five.

MV Agusta Reparto Corse pilot Leon Camier finished sixth, 0.748 of a second off the pace. The Brit was followed by Milwaukee Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori (-0.904) Pata Yamaha’s Alex Lowes (-1.084), Althea BMW Racing Team’s Jordi Torres (-1.128) and Kawasaki Puccetti Racing’s Randy Krummenacher (-1.249).

The Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team continued to struggle with the new Honda CBR1000RR SP2 Fireblade. The sole American in all of 2017 World Superbike, Nicky Hayden, finished 1.407 of a second off the pace, and teammate Stefan Bradl 2.251 behind Rea.

“Luckily today we had much better weather than yesterday, but we picked up more or less where we left off at Portimão. Unfortunately, we were not able to close the gap to the front like we wished we had and there is still some work to do with the electronics and the driveability,” Hayden says.

“We also experienced some inconsistency from lap to lap, which didn’t help me in giving a proper feedback to the team. We will look through the data in order to try and find something in time for Friday: we need to focus on the positives and be realistic on what there is to improve the most, then we’ll see what happens.”

Stay clicked to Ultimate Motorcycling for World Superbike coverage throughout the 2017 season.