Rea Continues At The Top

Gordon Ritchie | October 28, 2009

The off season for most riders in World Superbike lasted just over 24 hours as testing for a new season began in earnest on yesterday and was completed today – sooner for some riders than others.The Ducati Xerox duo of Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga left the track with the whole afternoon session still to do on the final day, but the fastest time of all was set by Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea while they were still there.Rea’s 1:41.878 was better than Superpole, and was set using race tires.”I just want to say how really, really proud I am of the whole team, who have worked so hard over the last weeks,” Rea said. “They’ve gone through this test positively and methodically and got the bike working better. The great thing is that there is still so much potential and that just fills me with confidence for next season. The lap times were coming quite easily and we did all our work on used tires. Everyone deserves a good rest now before we get back to work in December.”Second up was Fabrizio, on a 1:41.992, but the star of the show was arguably one of the two men destined to fill Ben Spies boots – Cal Crutchlow. In his first test of his new R1 machine, and despite a big highside crash on the first day, he set a 1:42.115 – three tenths better than Spies in qualifying and over a second better than soon to be full-time teammate James Toseland.”Happy enough with today’s test, but a lot of work to do, no doubt about that,” Crutchlow said. “Times were good, pleased to be honest and we only used the decent tire at the end. Everybody used them all day except for us. To be three tenths of the best time of the weekend, when the rest of them have been riding round here all weekend, is not so bad. I whacked my head really hard in a fall yesterday and my eardrums are been hurting, so I have to get back home and get looked at to be honest. We have hardly changed the bike that Ben [Spies] ran, hardly changed the bike at all – just got electronic settings to suit me. No chassis set-up to suit me yet. The main thing now is to the bike to fit me because I can’t get my feet to touch the floor. If I try to do a practice start I have to lean to one side!”Toseland was still suffering from jet-lag on day two, and worked his way through his two-day test knowing he still had one MotoGP race left, and trying to get used to the tricky Portimao track.Another stand-out rider for a new team was Alstare Suzuki’s Leon Haslam (pictured), riding his 2010 machine to a strong 1:42.251.”I am over the moon in every way and really excited about the future,” Haslam said. “We went through more than I expected and found many good ideas to work with.

It was a shame that I injured myself last Sunday in the morning warm-up on race day, because it meant that I wasn’t 100 percent here at these tests. I have had internal and external stitches in my left elbow and also damaged some ankle ligaments, but I don’t really notice any pain when I am on the bike. At the end of the day, I feel a bit sore, but nothing too bad.”I am impressed with the bike and the team and think we have established a good relationship very quickly. Everybody has helped me so much, right from day one. Although Sylvain [Guintoli] and I have not had much time to discuss the bike together, I know that we both have said more or less the same things and I am sure that we’ll work very well together.”The new Suzukis, albeit not new models as such, were hidden behind massive screens in pit lane, appeared to have a fuel tank under the seat area, a shorter wheelbase than normal and a new swingarm. The team was also evaluating both Ohlins and Showa forks – and appears to have chosen Öhlins for 2010.The Aprilia duo of Max Biaggi and Leon Camier were not timed with transponders, but claimed both set a 1:42.7 laps, as they evaluated new front forks and rear shocks, and Camier eventually had his first go on the underslung swingarm that Biaggi only used so far.Noriyuki Haga went to the latest spec MotoGP-inspired Ohlins front fork, but was no faster on them than his more old-fashioned favorites, and he was still suffering from the cold and fever which had affected his entire weekend.Behind came Toseland, with Carlos Checa on an ex-Italian Championship Ducati 1098RS going into the mid 1:43s in his first ever V-twin ride.Returning rider Max Neukirchner was bouncing with joy after being so long off a bike and yet to be in the mid 1:43s, as that was way better than Sunday’s race pace.”I did 70 laps on both days of the test, including runs of 16 laps so I’m quite tired after being off a bike for six months,” Neukirchner said. “I’ve been training hard at home, but riding a bike is quite different and I know I’ve got a lot more work to do. However, I am really happy with the way this test has gone and on the second day I could feel that the pace was definitely coming, lap by lap. I got a really good feeling with the bike and the team. Of course, there is a long way to go before I can really understand how the bike works but it is a very good start.”The rider who replaced him in the Alstare Suzuki team, Sylvain Guintoli, did back-to-back tests on Suzuki’s old and new bikes, and was less than two seconds from the blistering times set by Rea, despite his recent return to racing action after a knee operation.Tom Sykes, unveiled officially as a Kawasaki World Superbike rider alongside Chris Vermeulen today, fought against a painful fractured shoulder and did nowhere near as many laps as the others over two days, securing a time of 1:44.9, according to some stopwatches. Vermeulen was present at Portimao, but banned from riding by his current Suzuki contract.Regis Laconi took some steps back into racing on the DFX twin on day one, going into the mid 1:46s.In Supersport, Kenan Sofuoglu made great use of all the machine improvements Ten Kate have been making recently, but not bringing until the track until they were proven, and set a 1:44.329, almost a second better than qualifying for the race.

Combined Times


1.                  Jonathan Rea – 1’41.878 Hannspree Ten Kate

2.                  Michel Fabrizio 1’41.992 Ducati Xerox

3.                  Cal Crutchlow 1’42.115 Yamaha Sterilgarda

4.                  Leon Haslam 1’42.251 Alstare Suzuki

5.                  Max Biaggi 1’42.71 Aprilia

6. Leon Camier 1’42.79 Aprilia

7. Noriyuki Haga 1’43.098 Ducati Xerox

8. James Toseland – 1’43.147 Yamaha Sterilgarda

9. Carlos Checa 1’43.425 Ducati Althea

10. Max Neukirchner 1’43.549 Hannspree Ten Kate Honda

11. Sylvain Guintoli 43.612 – Alstare Suzuki

12. Joan Lascorz 1’43.902 – Kawasaki WSB (First day)

13. Javier Fores 1’44.413 (DFX Ducati)

14. Tom Sykes – 1’44.9 (Kawasaki WSB Team)

15. Vittorio Ianuzzo – 1’44.908 (Squadra Corse Italia)

16. Alex Hofmann (Aprilia test rider) 1’45.5 (Aprilia Test Team)

17. Regis Laconi 1’46.458 (DFX Ducati)



1.                  Kenan Sofuoglu 1’44.329 (Ten Kate Honda)

2.                  Joan Lascorz 1’44.619 (Proved Motocard Kawasaki)

3.                  Michele Pirro 1’44.999 (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda)

4.                  Broc Parkes 1’45.0 (Provec Kawasaki)

5.                  Katsuaki Fujiwara 1’45.875 (Provec Kawasaki)

6.                  David Salom 1’46.2 (Provec Kawasaki)

7.                  Dino Rea 1:46.423 (Yamaha WSS)

Gordon Ritchie | World Superbike Editor

You may not understand Ritchie and his Scottish accent if you had him on the phone, but you can definitely understand what he writes as our World Superbike editor.