Jonathan Rea and Toprak Razgatlioglu set World Superbike title tone in winter test

Jonathan Rea and Toprak Razgatlioglu set the tone for what is to come in the 2022 World Superbike Championship as they lit up this week’s two-day test at Portimao in Portugal.

Rea set the benchmark on the opening day on Tuesday with a lap in 1m 40.621s, putting him 0.132s ahead of reigning champion Razgatlioglu, who was in action for the first time this year on the Pata Yamaha.

On Wednesday, Kawasaki’s Rea raised the bar when he posted the first ever WorldSBK lap in the 1m 39s bracket in the morning session using Pirelli’s latest SCQ tyre, which is designed to last the duration of the 10-lap Superpole races.

However, Razgatlioglu - who set the pole lap record at Portimao in 2021 in 1m 40.219s - responded in the afternoon, topping the test with a 1m 39.616s as he edged Rea by around two tenths.

Jonathan Rea leads Toprak Razgatlioglu during the winter test at Portimao. Picture: Graeme Brown/GeeBee Images.

Spain’s Alvaro Bautista impressed on his return to Ducati in third (1m 40.055s) ahead of Rea’s Kawasaki team-mate Alex Lowes.

Rea, whose team worked on chassis and electronic set-ups, said: “We got a lot of laps in at this test. We have been going back and forward because we had a couple of chassis items we were not sure about.

“We did a long race simulation at the end - and some practice starts that were much better than the ones on the first day.

“Normally in Portimao there is a big tyre drop after ten or 15 laps, but today [Wednesday] I did not experience any drop in the long run.

“I’m pretty happy with that and we will keep working on that side of things,” added the 35-year-old.

“It is important to be fast but it is important to be fast at the end of races. I think we can safely say we managed that today.

“So, all-in-all, it was a pretty solid day. I think we have a pretty good handle on what our base set-up is going to be to start the year.”

Rea’s next test will be at Cataluyna from March 25-26.

The 2022 season will blast off at Motorland Aragon in the north of Spain from April 8-10.