Jonathan Rea anticipates flying start at Phillip Island opener

Jonathan Rea with the 2014 Pata Honda Fireblade
Jonathan Rea with the 2014 Pata Honda Fireblade

Jonathan Rea expects to hit the ground running at the opening round of the 2014 World Superbike Championship at Phillip Island in Australia next month.

Rea, whose season last year was blighted by a leg injury sustained at the Nurburgring in Germany - ruling him out for the remaining four races of 2013 - joined his Pata Honda WSBK team-mate Leon Haslam in Italy to unveil the new CBR1000RR Fireblade SP he will ride this year.

The Ulster rider is still experiencing some discomfort from the injury, but Rea feels back to his old self and is beginning to up the ante ahead of the opening race in Australia on February 23.

“It was quite difficult at times in 2013 and the season ended badly in injury, but my leg feels okay now,” he said.

“It’s not quite 100% and I have some discomfort walking on it, but on the bike it’s fine. This team feels like a family to me now and knowing all the faces and how the team works helps me to get the best out of the package and the people around me.

“We all share the same goals but it feels like there’s been a change of mentality for this season – everyone is even more focused than usual,” added Rea.

“By the time we get to Phillip Island we will have tested a lot and we’re really pushing hard, so I think that if anyone is in good shape to challenge at the front when the season starts it’ll be me and my team.”

Rea was third fastest on the unofficial time sheets at last weekend’s pre-season test at Portimao in Portugal behind the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki pair of series rookie Alex Lowes and fellow Northern Ireland rider Eugene Laverty - last season’s championship runner-up.