Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam have successfully completed two days of WorldSBK testing in Portugal, held at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve near Portimao between the 24th and 25th of August. Four-time World Champion Rea finished up second quickest and his experienced team-mate Haslam was sixth.
Coming only two weeks before the Portimao round of the championship this test was used by the team to find the best set-up for the rapidly approaching race weekend, and also try out some development and set-up ideas for the 2020 WorldSBK season.
Hot sunshine and clear August skies were evident on both days at the 4.592km long circuit, resulting in slightly cooler track conditions in the morning and a hotter track surface in the afternoon each day.
Rea was the fastest of the Kawasaki riders and second quickest overall. Haslam proved to be sixth fastest while day one quickest rider Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) was eventually third overall, and the top independent rider.
The tenth of 13 FIM Superbike World Championship rounds takes place at Portimao between 6th and 8th September, restarting the season after a long summer break in racing action since the Laguna Seca round in mid-July.
Jonathan Rea: “The test was really good and to be honest I needed to test. I was a little bit slow in waking up yesterday. I have had a great summer break but I was not only readjusting to riding again. With the momentum I had from the endurance spec bike in Suzuka, I felt really fast coming here. At a circuit I am really strong at, I did not really feel I had much more yesterday. But this morning I woke up and we found a better lap time and also more consistency. In the heat of the afternoon I was much better compared to the opening day. I feel really positive.”
Leon Haslam: “We had a lot of things to evaluate and we ended up – on race tyres – the second quickest to Johnny. I was the only one who did not use a qualifier, an ‘SCX’ or a prototype tyre. So race tyre-to-race tyre we were just a couple of tenths off where Johnny was. We made a big step here and we were 0.7 seconds faster than we were in pre-season testing at Portimao, and in hotter conditions. I felt we got through all our items and it was a really positive test. It shows me as sixth on the time sheets but that is purely down to others using a qualifying tyre.”
Pere Riba (Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea): “We came here with a list of test items thinking about making a general improvement compared to the first two-thirds of the season. Then we thought about race weekend here, with the base bike, and some general things for next year. We tried a couple of things on the suspension side from Showa, and then we also focused on the electronics. We also worked on the balance of the bike for the Portimao race weekend. We had hot conditions in the afternoons and also a little bit less temperature in the morning sessions – and we have been fast in both. Especially in the hot conditions it seems like we have made a little step forward and now we are ready to start the race weekend.”
Marcel Duinker (Crew Chief for Leon Haslam): “We have a happy rider and that is where it all starts from. The main target of this test was to prepare ourselves for race weekend. We had a test in January here and that was one of the first times Leon had jumped on this bike. Then, he was still discovering the character of this bike but this time we stated from a different point. We improved the bike in quite a few areas and the most important thing is that his lap times are close to the top guy, plus he was fast and consistent. We used only the SC0 race tyre all through this test. Leon showed a very nice pace and we are very well prepared for the race weekend.”