Rea outlined his ambitious target from Day 2 at Portimao as he ended the day in second place, 0.009s off top spot after lapping faster than his own lap record
The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship headed to Portugal and the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve for two days of testing before the season gets underway in Australia and Day 2 was a day of record-breaking pace in WorldSBK. Four riders went under the existing lap record including six-time Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), with Rea aiming to break that even further during the test.
Rea finished second in the standings on Day 2 with a 1’39.044s to his name, lapping only 0.009s slower than reigning Champion Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). Bautista and Rea were one of four riders, along with Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) to smash the existing lap record, which was set by Rea in last year’s Portuguese Round in the Tissot Superpole session, which was a 1’39.610s.
Looking at the incredible pace shown by all four riders and the Portimao test, Rea said: “To do 1’39.0s at Portimao is fast. Last year, with the Q tyre, we did a 1’39.6 and now, with the race solutions, we’re even faster. The track is in good shape, it’s always different conditions so it’s hard to compare to what we did last year. Everyone’s moving forward. The pace at the front is incredibly fast. Inside the box, we’ve been working really well. I’m enjoying riding the bike. It’s very hard to gauge how much we’ve made a step forward because it’s not under race conditions with other riders, with 20 laps on the tyre. Everyone in testing has a different schedule, let’s say. Some guys are going full time attack mode, some guys are working on long runs, some are testing parts. Testing’s testing. I’m quite excited now to park now and go to Australia in a few weeks and get the first race of the year under my belt.”
Rea’s best time was set on Pirelli’s SCX tyre despite having the SCQ available at Portimao during the test, although Rea did attempt a run on the SCQ later in the day as he looked to set a lap time in the 1’38s bracket. The six-time Champion also gave a small preview into how he thinks WorldSBK in 2023 will play out, commenting on the pace of Bautista, Rinaldi and Razgatlioglu after the two-day Portimao test.
Rea added: “What’s clear is that racing never stands still. Everyone moves forward and I hope that’s the case inside the box. I think it’s the usual guys at the front. What I’ve seen so far, and I haven’t looked very deep in the times, guys you mentioned are very fast and I’m happy to be amongst that. I don’t know if it was the conditions or time of day, but it was a strange feeling. I used the really soft tyre at the end of the day. Temperatures maybe dropped but I didn’t have the same sensations that I had with the SCX. With me, the SCX tyre felt more stable and also the SC0; I was able to make many laps with the SC0. It was strange that the Q didn’t work. Normally we bolt the grippy tyres on the bike and we make a huge step so when they put it in, I was rolling my sleeves up. I could see the lap time with Bautista was almost the same. After the first sector, I thought it’s not happening today, it’s not going to work. I wanted to see 1’38s on my dash to make the fastest lap here! We got close, but not close enough.”
Follow the 2023 WorldSBK season in style using the WorldSBK VideoPass!