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World Superbike Jerez January testing

Kawasaki, Rea buoyed by "very strong" first WSBK test of 2022

Jonathan Rea and Kawasaki were encouraged by a “very strong” first World Superbike pre-season test of 2022 at Jerez, as they aim to wrestle the crown back from Toprak Razgatlioglu and Yamaha.

Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

Kawasaki completed two days of running at the Spanish venue this week, although Rea didn’t go out on track until the second afternoon to preserve his testing allocation for the new season.

The six-time WSBK champion, however, did make good use of the limited running, setting a best time of 1m38.851s to beat teammate Alex Lowes and Puccetti Kawasaki rider Lucas Mahias, as well as the factory Hondas of Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge that were present on the first day of the test. 

The Ulsterman also completed what Kawasaki described as a ‘confident-boosting’ long run, racking up a total of 61 laps around the 4.4km circuit.

Rea’s long-time crew chief Pere Riba was impressed by the work put in by the 34-year-old in such a short span of time, as Kawasaki evaluated several new parts on the ZX-10RR.

“We focused mainly on the chassis side, because we are reconfirming things we did in December and comparing them with new items we built since the previous test," said Riba.

“Johnny feels very positive, he is working very well, and the lap times were very strong. We did a long run and the result was positive. Johnny did a great, great job. 

“We tested a new tyre for Pirelli and took some first information about the new electronics strategy. We are pleased with the result."

Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

Photo by: Kawasaki Racing Team

The next pre-season test is scheduled at Portimao on February 8-9, where Kawasaki will be joined by Yamaha and Ducati - the Japanese marque’s two closest rivals in recent years.

Rea says the Portugal test will provide Kawasaki with a reference for the first time since it started testing the 2022 bike in December, while also stressing that he must work on improving his own race starts this year.

“We have some chassis items to test again,” he told the official WSBK website. “We don't have so many things inside the engine. I think electronics we still need to work quite hard on some strategies.

“Then aside from that, I need to practice some starts because there's something different with our start setup that I need to improve on. My starts last year were okay but not incredible. They were much better in the past so we're trying to improve. 

“At the Jerez test my practice starts weren't too good so [I need to] improve on that. 

“Then, I guess it's the first time we'll be with everybody. So, we'll see. We've been testing only with Honda, they've been riding really well, but we need to reference the others: the Ducati, the Yamaha, BMW, so I guess most of those guys will be there. It'll be an even better gauge. I like the track. I like the place, hopefully we can have a good feeling.”

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