Kawasaki WorldSBK quicker than most MotoGP riders at Jerez Test

Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea punted his ZX-10RR WorldSBK machine around Jerez this week in times fast enough to embarrass almost all of the MotoGP riders that were also present for the Spanish test.

Rea’s 1m37.986 was actually the quickest time set on the final day of the test by any rider present as by Friday the previous pacesetters, Team Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo, along with LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow, had already finished their testing schedule.

Jonathan Rea - GeeBee Images
Jonathan Rea – GeeBee Images

Dovizioso had been the fastest of the MotoGP riders on the earlier days of the test (Link), with a 1m37.663 ahead of Crutchlow’s 1m37.818, and Lorenzo’s 1m37.921.

Rea’s 1m37.986 was however faster than 15 other MotoGP riders that participated in the test sessions this week.

Jonathan Rea - GeeBee Images
Jonathan Rea – GeeBee Images

The pace of Rea and Sykes was all the more impressive as they were using the 14,100rpm maximum rev limit imposed on the Ninja ZX-10RR by the 2018 WorldSBK technical regulations.

Jonathan Rea

“This test is really important for us and it is always held at a good time of year. The weather has been consistent so we have been really lucky. There is a lot of rubber down on the track so we were able to evaluate all the components we had to test and we ticked everything in the box. We had to confirm chassis components and a swingarm, and we worked a lot with Showa suspension on Wednesday. When we had everything boxed off we were able to test some new tyres from Pirelli. We also used this test to try out a qualifying tyre and to see our true potential over one lap. I was surprised to be so fast and go into the 1’37s. Good results do not just happen; it has been a lot of hard work. I am very proud of the team as they understood the regulation changes. We were able to hit the ground running when we came here on Monday.”

Jonathan Rea - GeeBee Images
Jonathan Rea – GeeBee Images

Sykes’ 1m38.326 was also extremely impressive and indeed faster than more than half of the 18 MotoGP riders that tested this week.

Tom Sykes

“I am really happy with the way the tests have gone. That put a bit of a smile on my face and a spring in my step for the winter. I could honestly not have asked for any more. A big thanks to all the boys, they prepared two top-level bikes which made the testing much more efficient and I have to say I am very pleasantly surprised with my performance on race tyres. We tried a Q tyre, but it was in a bike with a slightly different set-up and chassis package. Since using that Q tyre we have improved the bike again and am very happy about this. It is a good way to go into the winter.”

Tom Sykes - Image by GeeBee
Tom Sykes – Image by GeeBee

The best times for the KRT duo were set on qualifying rubber. On a race tyre set-up Rea did a 1’38.8, on a harder rear tyre option on Friday morning, with Sykes setting a race tyre best of 1’39.3 earlier in the week. Rea’s time of 1m38.8 on race tyres was also faster than many of the MotoGP riders managed all week. It should be noted that there are no qualifying tyres used in MotoGP.

Pere Riba – Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea

“It was interesting to test different parts, matching in with next year’s technical rules. We concentrated to test engine character for next year and some parts in the engine. We understand that we will miss some power in the top because of the rev limitation. This means that somewhere you have to lose, and then compensate in some other areas. So if you want to make up some time you have to improve the braking areas, or corner speed, or in some other areas. We did not set-up the bike with clicks, geometry or whatever. All three days we kept the same chassis settings, but we just tested different items on the bike. From the January tests onwards we will start to test with the tools we have to make the final set-up of the bike. So far the race pace was very good and on a qualifying tyre we were crazy fast. So all very positive.”

Jonathan Rea - GeeBee Images
Jonathan Rea – GeeBee Images

The existing Jerez WorldSBK lap record, which was set recently in a race, stands at 1’40.640. The pole record, set on qualifying tyres, is currently 1’38.960. Thus Rea, Sykes and the ZX-10RR were obviously in scintillating form to go a second quicker than previously set on qualifiers, and almost two-seconds quicker than what had previously been achieved on race tyres at the Spanish venue.

While this was an awesome display of pace from the WorldSBK spec’ ZX-10RR and its talented riders, it is also must be seen as somewhat of an embarassment to Michelin. The French tyre manufacturer have broken many lap records this season, their second back in MotoGP, but that WorldSBK riders on their Pirelli rubber were seen to be going quicker than Michelin shod MotoGP bikes is certainly not a good look. Over full race distance on tyres that would last 20 laps perhaps it would be a very different story, esepcially as the Superbikes are around 10kg heavier than the MotoGP machines.

Certainly the peculiarities of the Jerez Circuit also played their part in the final equation, with top speeds at the Spanish venue only around 290km/h, the MotoGP bikes do not really get to stretch their legs, but still…

Jonathan Rea - GeeBee Images
Jonathan Rea – GeeBee Images

Rea rode for three days in all; Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He went back to the UK to collect his Member of the British Empire award (MBE) on Tuesday. He suffered a very fast fall on Wednesday but went out on track soon after on his spare bike to go just as fast as he had before.

Sykes rode for four days out of five and found improvements in overall race pace all the way to the end of the final test before the off-season begins.

Jonathan Rea - GeeBee Images
Jonathan Rea – GeeBee Images

While most of the MotoGP field were present during the week of testing, notable absentees include the Repsol HRC squad and Yamaha’s MotoGP riders.  Honda BSB riders Dan Linfoot and Jason O’Halloran were present which brought the number of riders testing up to a total of 28.

MotoGP Jerez Test Combined Times – November 2017

  1. Andrea Dovizioso 1m37.663 MotoGP
  2. Cal Crutchlow 1m37.818 MotoGP
  3. Jorge Lorenzo 1m37.921 MotoGP
  4. Jonathan Rea 1m37.986 WorldSBK
  5. Andrea Iannone 1m38.030 MotoGP
  6. Pol Espargaro 1m38.230 MotoGP
  7. Alex Rins 1m38.307 MotoGP
  8. Tom Sykes 1m38.326 WorldSBK
  9. Tito Rabat 1m38.387 MotoGP
  10. Danilo Petrucci 1m38.607 MotoGP
  11. Alex Lowes 1m38.622 WorldSBK
  12. Bradley Smith 1m38.688 MotoGP
  13. Scott Redding 1m38.778 MotoGP
  14. Jack Miller 1m38.876 MotoGP
  15. Franco Morbidelli 1m38.923 MotoGP
  16. Takaaki Nakagami 1m38.992 MotoGP
  17. Leon Camier 1m39.333 WorldSBK
  18. Xavi Fores 1m39.384 WorldSBK
  19. Eugene Laverty 1m39.485 MotoGP
  20. Sylvain Guintoli 1m39.510 MotoGP
  21. Michael Van der Mark 1m39.557 WorldSBK
  22. Alex Marquez 1m39.782 MotoGP
  23. Niccolo Canepa 1m39.855 WorldSBK
  24. Michael Rinaldi 1m40.223 WorldSBK
  25. Xavier Simeon 1m40.332 MotoGP
  26. Dan Linfoot 1m40.790 BSB
  27. Jason O’Halloran 1m40.950 BSB
  28. Takumi Takahashi 1m41.089 MotoGP