Aragon test ‘comes at good time’ for Rea - ‘It’s clear we need to pull together’

After his worst start to a WorldSBK season with Kawasaki, Jonathan Rea has stressed the importance of this week’s two-day Aragon test.
Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki WorldSBK Mandalika 2023
Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki WorldSBK Mandalika 2023

Looking more like pretenders rather than contenders, Rea and Kawasaki have so far had no answer to the pace of Ducati and Yamaha, and in particular current WorldSBK champion Alvaro Bautista.

Rea is already 68 points behind the Ducati rider after just two rounds, while he also remains winless as opposed to Bautista who has won five out of those opening six races. 

In fact, Rea has just one podium which is an uncharacteristic return after this amount of races, as other Ducati and Yamaha riders have managed to make considerable steps forward in 2023, which Rea and teammate Alex Lowes have failed to do in large part because of the ZX-10RR’s struggles.

But with a two-day test in Aragon, which begins today, presenting Kawasaki with an opportunity to find the necessary improvements, Rea is hoping it can be the start of a turnaround this season.

"This Motorland test comes at a really good time for us after a difficult first couple of rounds," added the six-time WorldSBK champion. "We now have four days of track testing planned between now and the next round at Assen, to work through some ideas that the team has in understanding our weak areas and trying to improve the bike further. 

"It is clear we need to pull together and do a good job in these tests. Aragon is a track that we have a lot of info about, so hopefully we can put that to good use. 

"Also it will be just nice to ride the bike again because without these two tests, it would be a big gap between the Mandalika and Assen race weekends. 

"Motorland will be a test to try out some different things to stop overloading the front and create an easier bike to ride. That is the target for me in the test."

Lowes ready for WorldSBK action after ‘tough start to the year’

Alex Lowes , Indonesian WorldSBK, 3 March
Alex Lowes , Indonesian WorldSBK, 3 March

While it’s true that Lowes has also endured a tough start to the season, the Kawasaki rider has shown improved performance when it comes to matching Rea.

Lowes has more often than not been as fast as Rea during the races, however, incidents with other riders and a couple of individual mistakes have seen him fail to turn his full potential into results.

"I am fully motivated for this test after a tough start to the year," said Lowes. "I have had a couple of weeks off, just to refresh a bit, spend some time with the family and do some good training. I am ready to go. 

"We have a few ideas to turn around the feeling on the bike. When we have grip, we seem pretty competitive. But when we lose grip we seem to drop more than some other teams. We are going to focus on being stronger on used tyres and keeping our pace for a bit longer. 

"All we can do is really maximise the strong parts of the bike. We have a couple of days this week and then another test at Montmelo soon after to try and improve. We had track temperatures at Mandalika of over 60°C and even though it was a tough weekend we still got a podium in the sprint race. 

"So, the speed is still there. We are going to try to maximise things to be a bit stronger when the grip drops and if we can improve that area a bit, then going into the European season we can expect to be strong."

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