"They’ve made me feel at home and really loved" – Rea’s first thoughts after Yamaha testing debut

Tuesday, 31 October 2023 14:53 GMT

The six-time Champion discussed his first days with Pata Yamaha, his Turn 13 crash and much more after day one at Jerez

After nine seasons, Jonathan Rea jumped onto a bike that wasn’t a Kawasaki. The six-time World Champion was getting his first taste of action with the Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK outfit at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto during a disrupted opening day of the test. Rain and red flags limited running but the Ulsterman was still able to put in the fourth fastest time of the day despite a small crash at Turn 13.

DAY ONE SUMMARISED: only a handful of laps

Rea’s best time was a 1’40.302s but the 119-time WorldSBK race winner was only able to complete 12 laps on day one thanks to a combination of poor weather from around midday and his crash at Turn 13. Despite this, he was less than half-a-second away from Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) in top spot with the Australian setting a 1’39.837s. Rea was actually the third-fastest Yamaha on Tuesday, with Gardner’s teammate, Dominique Aegerter, in third spot. Rea’s lap count was the second-lowest from the WorldSBK field.

Reflecting on his first day on track with Yamaha, the Northern Irishman said: “It was fantastic to get the first laps on the R1 because you always have anticipation and maybe a preconception of how the bike’s going to be. I’ve been super excited until this morning, and then I got really nervous all of a sudden. I was thinking ‘can I be fast with the bike?’ or ‘what’s it going to feel like sitting on the bike during the bike fit?’. I got comfortable but the position felt strange, and I couldn’t imagine riding the bike. As soon as I exited pitlane, there were a lot of positives straight away I could take. We did three outings. The weather has been far from perfect. Even this morning, at a lot of corners, it was full of wet patches. Just before lunch, we got a lot of drizzle and then the track got soaked. We considered keeping the bike nice and dry for tomorrow and keeping with the test plan. Hopefully the track can dry out tonight, maybe it’ll be a late start tomorrow, but it’s also important to ride in the wet.”

THE CRASH EXPLAINED AND MORE: one negative, a lot of positives

Rea’s crash came at the final corner on the circuit, the left-hand hairpin that leads onto the start-finish straight. He was able to return to the box and there was no red flag following the incident, and the Yamaha rider explained what caused it. He also went on to discuss the potential of the bike and how welcome the team have made him feel, including a special dinner on Monday evening for Rea and his family.

Talking about these topics, Rea said: “I’m fine. I got unsighted by another rider on track and just opened up the last corner to square them off and hit a wet patch. Christened the bike, unfortunately. One that’s easy to take because I got caught out by a patch and not something over the limit. I think there’s still a lot of margin with the bike. It’s user friendly which gives me a good feeling. I had an amazing team before, I can’t speak highly enough about them and always as a rider, you think how it’s going to be. The Pata Yamaha Prometeon team have been incredible from my first dealings. Making me feel at home, everything from a very nice welcome dinner last night with me and my family. They’ve made me feel at home and really loved. How we’re working inside the box is really positive.”

WEDNESDAY’S PLAN: “This test is primarily about being comfortable”

Yamaha are the third manufacturer Rea has ridden for in WorldSBK, following Honda between the end of 2008 and 2014, and Kawasaki from 2015 until 2020. However, changing bikes after so long will mean having to re-adjust to a new team, a new machine and everything all that entails. After a shortened day of action, the 263-time podium finisher elaborated on his plan for Wednesday at Jerez.

He explained: “I think this test is primarily about being comfortable. I asked not to test too many hardware parts, electronic parts. I want to come away from here understanding the R1, finding the limit of the bike with my style and then, once everything becomes familiar and automatic, then we can start to test hard parts. If we start doing that now, it’s very easy to get lost. The team understand that.”

Catch up on all the key moments from day one HERE and watch highlights and interviews from Jerez using the WorldSBK VideoPass!