The six-time WorldSBK champion was in dominant form ahead of Saturday’s first Superpole and race one of the year, after leading the way for nearly the entire 1h 30m of track time. 

The Kawasaki rider, who believes he’s in the best shape going into a WorldSBK season, set a blindingly fast time of 1:49.301s during the opening flurry of laps in FP1, which coincidentally was as fast as he went throughout the day. 

Rea was not pressured at all during FP1 as his time remained close to four tenth better than reigning world champion Razgatlioglu, while it was the third consecutive day - includes the two-day Aragon test earlier this week - that the Northern Irishman went underneath the existing lap record. 

Rea took two wins out of three during the Aragon season opener last season, and if today’s showing is anything to go off, then challenging for another two wins is the bare minimum of what should be possible. 

WorldSBK tests built the platform for strong opening day according to Rea

Speaking after his impressive display, Rea added “I am satisfied with today. We just kept working in the same way as we did at the tests, polishing some items. 

“I think the test was the hardest work as we defined the package that we will race with this weekend. I worked on a longer run today, in the afternoon, on one option of tyre, just to have the information about it. 

“On the front we also tried an option during our long run. Now I think we are quite equipped to know what to do tomorrow. It will all depend on the track temperature. 

“My rhythm here is quite OK and if I need to push for a lap time I know I can be fast over one lap as well. So, it is just understanding what temperature we will have tomorrow and trying to make a good start. 

“It’s the first race of the year and I am super-excited about it. I never had that feeling until today. It always felt a bit more exciting at Phillip Island going there to start the season, because it had a different ambience. But now I am pretty excited to race!”

While lap times might suggest Rea is the favourite at present, WorldSBK is at its most competitive level we’ve seen for many years.

Given how many riders have looked strong at different times, Rea believes this is set to continue throughout the year, not just this weekend.

“It’s going to be, not just a great weekend, but a great season,” claimed Rea. “I think, expect similar to last year. 

“The season was incredible with so many different guys on the podium each and every weekend. It’s exciting for me as a rider and fight from round one.”

Razgatlioglu still in the fight!

As stated by the six-time champion, one lap pace and race performance has been very strong thus far, however, Razgatlioglu made considerable steps in FP2. 

Aragon is far from the Pata Yamaha rider’s favourite circuit, however, day-one was one of his better showings at the Teruel-based track, which is certainly going to be a worry for the opposition.

A lack of ‘grip’ with the front tyre resulted in Razgatlioglu feeling like more stability was needed due to his hard braking style, which is something the potential 2023 MotoGP rider stressed will be improved come tomorrow.

Razgatlioglu said: "Compared to testing, there was not good grip here in the first Free Practice session and in the afternoon we worked for the race bike and try a race simulation – but after nine or ten laps I feel the front tyre drop and after I come back to the box. 

"Tomorrow we will improve this problem because in the race I need the front tyre to be strong, I like it for hard braking! 

"I am very happy with the rear tyre and after ten laps I feel very good grip. My dream is always to be fighting for the win, it is not easy for us, I think everyone is very strong this year. 

"From 2020 to 2022 at this track, we improve a lot and we will improve race-by-race, so we will see."