Jonathan Rea has shrugged off a fall during pre-season testing at Phillip Island as a minor frustration, as the Irishman reported that Castrol Honda are 'in a pretty good place' with the start of the 2011 World Superbike Championship now less than a fortnight away, and that his CBR1000RR Fireblade is 'jammin'.
Castrol Honda undertook a private two-day test at the Australian circuit ahead of the official test there next week and the resumption of competitive hostilities at the end of the month. Having found its efforts blighted by poor weather back in Europe over the winter, the Ten Kate-run operation made the most of the generally dry conditions Down Under to try out a number of new components.
Rea completed just over 100 laps on the opening day and swiftly settled into a fast rhythm around the sweeping 4.5km circuit 150 kilometres south of Melbourne – before a crash in damp conditions at Turn One this morning left the 24-year-old complaining of neck pains and resulted in him being transferred to hospital for a scan. Happily, no damage was found, but his day of testing was over.
“Everything felt really good yesterday and we did more laps than we've done during the whole winter in Europe,” revealed the six-time race-winner. “This morning it was wet but, when it stopped raining and looked like clearing up, I went out but got off the bike quite quickly at Turn One.
“I hurt my neck a bit, but the paramedics insisted on putting me in a brace and taking me to hospital where it took about four hours to get a scan. Everything was fine and it was a little frustrating to lose the time, but yesterday showed that we're in a pretty good place, so I'm looking forward to some more testing on Monday.”
Rea was joined at the test by 2011 Castrol Honda team-mate Rubén Xaus, who celebrated his 33rd birthday a day early by taking full advantage of his first real opportunity to get some dry running aboard the CBR1000RR.
“I'm quite tired actually!” quipped the experienced Spaniard. “I've done a lot of laps yesterday and today, and this is quite a physical circuit. Combined with trying lots of different things and still a bit of jet-lag, it's been a tough couple of days – but so far, so good.
“We've had to go through a lot of different things to learn more about the bike and how it behaves in different situations. I don't want to go out and just give it full gas for three fast laps; I want to be able to go fast after a lot of laps, which is really important here. We know which direction we're going in and we'll follow that way when we come back on Monday and work a little more on stability through the corners.”
“Jonathan had quite a big 'off' this morning, but everything was fine yesterday and I saw he tweeted that the bike was 'jammin', which is a good thing I think!” summarised team manager Ronald ten Kate. “He was still on full wets this morning, even though the puddles had gone, and when he got back from the hospital it was quite late, so we gave him the rest of the afternoon off.
“Rubén and his crew have been going through a lot of work here, because it's been his first chance to ride the bike properly in dry conditions. They tried a lot of different settings and found a good way to head into the official tests next week.”