Reigning and five-time WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea is facing the hardest defence of his title since he won it back in 2015.
Rea has former MotoGP riders coming at him, a couple of BSB kings as well as his own team-mate and the works Kawasaki man is well aware of the challenge he faces but is taking it in his stride.
“It is January. Everybody is always excited in January. We need to see again. Last year was the same and there were different stories, like with Alvaro who was seemingly untouchable and in the end we were quite dominant,” Rea told bikesportnews.com.
“So, it has the potential to be great because there are so many fast riders in different teams. With Honda coming back that is quite a good story because nobody knows the potential. But they have the potential to go to PI and win the race by ten seconds… or they have the potential to go there and fight for a top five.
“Nobody understands. We need three or four races to really understand where everybody fits and work from there.”
Rea goes into 2020 with a new rear brake setup, using a bar-mounted lever because of the way he places his feet on the pegs.
“In the past because of my style – I ride on the balls of my feet in the corners – it is so hard to use that when I am on the right. I am putting so much effort in my toes to turn.
Now it is here it is more easy. I can be more consistent going in the corner. Especially in Jerez, with a right-handed track, going into turn one… two six has a huge benefit, and nine. Especially in November, I felt a huge difference. So especially in the all the right hand circuit it should be better.
“I tried a thumb brake but it just felt completely unnatural. I think coming from riding scooters or bicycles it feels more normal. It looks like there is a lot going on at that left lever but it is how it is. They have done a really good job of engineering it to be strong but also trying to keep it out of the way a little bit.
“The only difference in the starts is that my hand is in a different angle, as the clutch lever sits above the rear brake. So I just have the angle of my hand a little bit more upwards. I have been practicing some starts and they have been pretty good, the same or similar to the past.
“It should not be a big drama. The only difference is that it is not that aesthetically nice to look at because it is so busy.”