World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea aiming to 'keep building speed and confidence' at Portimao test
Jonathan Rea will continue Kawasaki’s pre-season testing programme on his own this week at Portimao in Portugal as team-mate Alex Lowes misses out through injury.
Briton Lowes was also absent from last month’s test at Jerez in Spain after sustaining a shoulder injury in a flat track training accident.
Reigning World Superbike champion Rea will be hoping for an improvement in the weather during the two-day test on Thursday and Friday after a test at Jerez in January was hit by wet weather.
Rain also hampered the February test at the Spanish circuit, although Rea did manage to get 40 laps done on the new 2021 Kawasaki ZX-10RR after his team took advantage of improved conditions the day after the initial test was scheduled.
The six-time champion is eager to press on with the development of Kawasaki’s new race bike, which features a higher revving engine than the previous model, plus numerous aerodynamic and downforce advances, which allow harder acceleration and a greater top speed.
Portimao offers the Ulster rider the perfect opportunity to assess the machine, with Rea enjoying more success statistically at the undulating Portuguese circuit than any other on the calendar.
The 34-year-old’s 20 podium finishes at Portimao include 12 victories, underscoring his affinity with the track.
Rea is gunning for a magnificent seventh world crown in 2021 and also has a milestone 100th career win in his sights. He currently holds the all-time World Superbike record of 99 victories, with 84 of those wins achieved with Kawasaki since he joined the team for the 2015 season.
“It is really good to test again and I am excited to ride the bike, especially during these strange and unknown times,” Rea said.
“We have got some consistency going inside KRT since we tested in November, then again recently at Jerez. It is good to keep the rhythm going with the new Ninja ZX-10RR race bike before the start of season. We have already tested some new ideas with power characteristics from the engine although the weather conditions were not 100 per-cent,” he added.
“So, the main thing we have to do at this test is confirm things on the engine side and then fix our gearbox ratios. We aim to keep building speed and keep building confidence.”
Assen in The Netherlands was due to lift the curtain on the 2021 championship in April, but with the Dutch round pushed back until July due to the Covid-19 restrictions in place, the opening round will now take place at Estoril in Portugal from May 7-9, where the championship concluded last October.
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