Reigning WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea ended a two-day Portimao test with a flourish, homing in on Tom Sykes’ existing outright lap record using the new and less-grippy Pirelli qualifying tyre.
Rea set a 1’41.4 on the newer tyre which compares favourably to team-mate Sykes’ 1’41.360, set in 2013 using the super-sticky one-lap wonder Pirelli that has been ditched for the remainder of 2017.
“We changed the bike a little bit because the general balance wasn’t working for the circuit. It required a different setup due to the characteristics of the track and the big bumps have been generated over time. There is some patchy re-surfacing and the joins aren’t very smooth, so there was a lot of things to acclimatise to before we could get fast,” said Rea, speaking to BSN from his Isle of Man home.
“It has been really nice to test here in Portimao, especially to continue on from our positive test in Aragon. We worked in a calm and methodical way. The track was really dirty and because there were only a few bikes on track we never had perfect conditions on the ground. In saying that, the weather has been amazing and we were able to make a lot of laps, analysing some new parts.
“We also made a good step forward with our chassis set up, improving that in some key areas. We were able to draw some positive conclusions from doing two full race simulations, when my pace was strong. I also did a lot of practice starts and now I feel a bit more consistent in that area. After we ticked all the items off the list of work we had to do I used a Q tyre and we were able to make a really fast lap.
“I did a race simulation on both days in the late afternoon and they were more competitive than the races in 2015. I’m not exactly sure where we stack up as only Honda were testing there. I’m thankful to KRT for organising it as at this time of year we were maximising the similarities for when we will race there in September. Hopefully, we will be able to start FP1 much stronger.
“I’ve not been feeling my best since Thailand with sickness on and off. I had a throat infection at Aragon and last week was the first time I have been able to put some good training time on my cycle and motocross bike.”