Jonathan Rea has adopted a cautious approach in his assessment of his chances of a World Superbike victory at Phillip Island this weekend.
The Northern Ireland star was fourth fastest overall on his factory Honda at the conclusion of the two-day at the Australian circuit, but Rea expects to be up against it with the proven combination of Carlos Checa and Ducati particularly strong at Phillip Island.
Rea, whose best time on the CBR1000RR Fireblade was 1m, 31.913s, said: “It's been really good to get out on track with our rivals at this test because during our winter testing – in Qatar in December and here last month – we've been on our own. We're where we kind of expected to be and we know that to win here is going to be a very big task.
“Carlos [Checa] is riding very well and consistently but we're still changing things on the bike because I'm still not 100% satisfied with the set-up. It's been really good just be on track with the others though, and I'm really enjoying riding bike.
"I can really feel what the bike's doing and the electronics are working really well. I'm looking forward to a couple of days off now before we go into Friday's sessions.”
Rea, whose season was blighted in 2011 following a complicated wrist injury, has a few positives to take from the test into this weekend's opening round of the 2012 campaign.
“We found a bit of a direction with a harder rear and, although the tyre choice in this test has been clear, the race weekend is going to be different again. We played around with springs towards the end of that final session and I was able to lap okay with a harder spring, even when the tyre was worn.
“That's a positive and so it's what we'll take into Friday morning and move into the new season from there.”
This season is of particular importance to Honda as the mighty Japanese manufacturer attempts to mark the 20th anniversary of its iconic Fireblade in perfect style by securing the world crown.