Jonathan Rea believes the base setting with which he is currently operating has put him in a strong position ahead of the beginning of his World Superbike title defence in Phillip Island.
Although not fastest overall, the Northern Irishman displayed his now-trademark consistency on Friday afternoon to post 18 laps in the 1m 31s bracket during a 22-lap race simulation – six more than Michael van der Mark and Davide Giugliano.
Rea was third fastest overall despite having to adjust to a change in wind direction, and voiced his liking of a new tyre compound, brought by Pirelli specifically for the first round of 2016.
“Today the wind changed,” said 29-year old Rea. “In the test the wind was on our back but today the bike was behaving differently on the track. Generally it feels ok. The race simulation we did was better than in the test. We made almost all 1m 31s, which was maybe half a second faster than in the test so all ok. It's strange. The track has more grip and that changed the set-up of the bike a little bit. We're just fine-tuning the set-up.”
Asked whether he felt confident approaching Saturday's much revised schedule, where the World Superbike field has only 15 minutes to tweak settings before entering Superpole and race one, Rea reiterated the need of having a strong base setting to deal with the more limited track time.
“For me the schedule is the schedule. It doesn't matter if we have one race today. I think we need to give the schedule some time. I'm sure Dorna are doing something to try and help the championship in many ways so we have to trust in them. They're in event management. You're a journalist. I'm a rider. We try to trust them with this new schedule. I think time will tell. We'll see in some races if it's really good or not.
“The benefit for me is being in a good team like Kawasaki and having an amazing crew-chief like Pere Riba and a data guy like Paolo Marchetti, we're able to define a base setting quite quickly at a new track.
“Already now I think we're the only people now that have made two race simulations, more than others. We have a very good base with a lot of information. This will help tomorrow because we need to cover many aspects, to be fast on one lap, to be fast for 22, for the race, Superpole. I think for tomorrow we're more ready than some others.”
Clearly fastest in race conditions, Rea ended the day close to half a second off Sylvain Guintoli's quickest time. In his opinion, the speed of Yamaha's new World Superbike spec YZF R1 was of little surprise.
“The bike is already more than one year old. They have a lot of data from a lot of championships. Guintoli is a very good rider. It's clear they've got a really good bike because in domestic championships and also in endurance they're one of the strongest. It's no surprise. I think it seems normal that he's in front.”