Pata Honda World Superbike rider Jonathan Rea set his stall out for next Sunday’s opening round of the 2013 championship in Australia with a promising performance in a pre-race test at Phillip Island.
The Northern Ireland rider set the third fastest time overall at the conclusion of the unofficial two-day shakedown on Friday on his CBR1000RR behind Fixi Crescent Suzuki’s Leon Camier and new factory Aprilia rider Sylvain Guintoli.
Rea brushed off the effects of a crash to lap the newly resurfaced Phillip Island circuit in 1m 31.4s compared to British rider Camier’s benchmark time of 1m 31.2s on the GSX-R1000.
Italy’s Marco Melandri on the Goldbet BMW, Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Roma Aprilia) and Rea’s new Pata Honda teammate, Leon Haslam, completed the top six.
Eugene Laverty had topped the times on Thursday on his Aprilia RSV4 but slipped to ninth on Friday, lapping in 1m 32.1s.
However, the Toomebridge man – elevated to the role of Aprilia’s team leader this season following the retirement of reigning world champion Max Biaggi – set his quickest time on Thursday in 1m 31.7s.
No official timing facilities were in place at Phillip Island for the test, although the riders will be back in action for official testing on Monday and Tuesday prior to next Sunday’s first round of the world championship at the spectacular Aussie venue.
The test claimed a number of high-profile casualties, with Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes managing only 10 laps on Thursday before suffering a small fracture of his left wrist in a big off, which forced the Briton out of Friday’s session.
Sykes’ teammate, Loris Baz, also missed Friday’s action after hurting his back in a high-speed spill on Thursday.
Leon Camier’s Suzuki teammate, French rookie Jules Cluzel, was also involved in a heavy fall, requiring surgery to close an arm wound after he went down at Turn 11 on Thursday.
Alstare Ducati’s Carlos Checa never managed a lap on the new Ducati Panigale 1199R after the Spaniard was diagnosed in hospital with a blocked intestine prior to the start of testing on Thursday morning.
His Ducati teammate, Ayrton Badovini, continued with the team’s development programme but a high-side at Turn 9 on Friday cut short his preparation.
Badovini feared he had suffered broken ribs in the spill but was given a clean bill of health following a medical assessment.
None of the affected competitors expect to miss the official test on Monday and Tuesday.