Jonathan Rea braced for another new challenge at Navarra in Spain
Jonathan Rea resumes his quest for a seventh successive World Superbike title this weekend at another new circuit on the calendar, following on from the inaugural WSBK race at Most in the Czech Republic.
The Kawasaki rider, who holds a slender three-point advantage over Toprak Razgatlioglu at the halfway point of the championship, will be eager to return to the top step at Navarra in northern Spain after losing ground to his Yamaha rival at Most.
Rea and team-mate Alex Lowes participated in a two-day test last week at Catalunya in Barcelona and the 34-year-old is now ready for the next challenge at Navarra, where he was third fastest behind Razgatlioglu and Garrett Gerloff during a test in June.
“It is nice to go to Navarra, another new circuit for us. Unlike Most we have actually had a test there, a couple of months ago,” Rea said.
“I enjoyed the track but it seemed quite bumpy then. Now it seems the circuit have addressed some of the problems we faced. My rhythm and pace was pretty good there so I am quite curious to see, with everybody on track, how competitive everyone will be.
“I feel that with our Ninja ZX-10RR we can be strong. The idea is to start on Friday with a base set-up but also factoring in some ideas we tried at a previous test at Barcelona.
“I am excited for that and the aim is to have a really good race weekend.”
The Spanish circuit features a spectacular sixth-gear right-hander at the end of the main straight and a number of leading riders have compared the layout to Portimao in Portugal, due to its unique characteristics.
Rea said: “Corner one is big b***s! It’s sixth gear, tipping in there and it’s like no other corner in the world, that’s why it’s unique.
“It’s almost like tipping into Curvone at Misano. The last bit is like Portimao with the kink, kink and then hairpin. It’s not difficult to go fast here, but it’s difficult to go really fast.
“Those last tenths are very difficult to find because the circuit is so tight and very technical.”
The Northern Ireland rider recently passed his motorcycle test at his first attempt and collected a Kawasaki Z900RS from a Coleraine dealership, which is the first road bike owned by Rea.
“I am so happy and proud to have passed my motorcycle test,” said the 107-time WSBK race winner, who achieved 92 of those victories on Kawasaki machinery.
“It’s been something I have wanted to do for such a long time but with my sporting commitments and busy calendar it has been tough.”
Meanwhile, Briton Scott Redding has joined the official BMW Motorrad team for 2022, when he will partner Michael van der Mark on the M1000RR.
Redding, who moved to the Aruba.it Ducati team in 2020 after winning the British Superbike crown the previous year for Paul Bird’s Ducati team, finished as the runner-up behind Rea during his rookie season in the series.
The 28-year-old is currently third in the standings, 50 points behind Rea.
BMW Motorrad team principal Shaun Muir said: “We have been following Scott’s career for a number of years and are delighted that he will now become a part of our team. His successes speak for themselves and it is great that he will bring his skills and his experience to the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team in the future.
“With getting him on board, BMW Motorrad Motorsport once more underlines the huge importance of the WorldSBK project and the aim of establishing themselves at the very top.”
Practice at Navarra gets under way on Friday, with the opening race on Saturday scheduled for 13:00 BST.