If Jonathan Rea’s MotoGP-slaying 1’37.986s lap during testing Jerez wasn’t enough to make the WorldSBK paddock shudder then the fact the new rev limit imposed by Dorna bosses suits the three-time champion better will do.
Rea marmalised Marco Melandri’s Superbike pole record by a second, was faster than the assembled MotoGP riders, went under Dani Pedrosa’s pole time from earlier in the year by a quarter of a second and was only outside the outright lap record, set by Jorge Lorenzo on Bridgestone tyres in 2015, by 0.077s.
And all of this with a new engine spec which has lost around 1400rpm off the top end under the new regulations, which Rea doesn’t believe were directly aimed at him and his team, to try and even out the whole field.
“I’m not sure the rules were made so slow anyone down to be honest. I think they were made so the private teams could be more competitive, so that is good for them - a privateer with a good team and clever team should be able to compete. Realistically, I don’t know if that is going to happen or not but it gives them incentives to do it well themselves,” said Rea, speaking to bikesportnews.com from Barcelona airport.
“I don’t exactly know what the drop in RPM was aimed at. More RPM is more expense because with a high-revving motor, you have to have more in research and development, tolerances are tight so I guess with lower RPM they are trying to take the cost of tuning down.
“We couldn’t run the same engine spec as we have been as our bike made power right at the top of the RPM and we’re not using that now, so we have had to move the torque range down a bit which suits me better. It’s a positive step and something I have been asking for in the last year - a more endurance style engine so it’s a step forward.”
Rea and his KRT team anticipated the new regulations and with less power and top speed, the laptimes have to come from somewhere else.
“The biggest step for us has come from Showa. From the middle of the season, they have been working on new things and we were able to test some of them. Now we don’t have the out and out top speed, we’ve probably lost 4kph, we need to get that back elsewhere in the lap, so on the brakes or with corner speed. We’ve done a good job of that and found some more.
“Before the lap I had done a 1’38 flat, so I knew it was possible and it was what I was aiming to get into. When I saw it I was satisfied. I had done a mid-39 at Jerez on a race tyre before, and the track had a lot of rubber down, we’d had no rain so the conditions were good for everyone. We didn’t make a full race simulation, though, but got through all our test items with all boxes ticked.
“We tested some differenced with the chassis and a new swingarm, suspension components and whatnot, so we had enough to do but we’re back in January to start with the race development.”
Rea’s practice start at Jerez