MOTORBIKES: Rea revs up for Phillip Island World Superbikes opener

East Antrim's Jonathan Rea is revving up for the new World Superbikes season. INLT 06-916-CON
East Antrim's Jonathan Rea is revving up for the new World Superbikes season. INLT 06-916-CON

East Antrim’s Jonathan Rea is counting down the days until his World Superbikes title defence begins.

The Ballyclare man, who recently celebrated his 29th birthday, heads to Australia next week for race one of the series.

The former Larne Grammar pupil returns to Phillip Island, where he made a blistering start to his assault of the 2015 series with his maiden victory at the track. He went on to claim a further 13 victories and 23 podium places to dominate the championship.

Rea and team-mate Tom Sykes completed their final European test of pre-season at Motorland Aragon this week.

They found further improvements in the set-up of the new Ninja ZX-10R as the first round of the 2016 season looms on the horizon.

High winds prevented any action form the official KRT pairing on day one but they made the most of their window of opportunity on day two to finalise their personal choices of machine set-up and compare the most recent data collected at their previous test at Jerez the previous week.

The European winter test schedule is now complete but there will be an official two-day test for all WorldSBK runners prior to the opening race weekend of the year in Australia. The first day of testing will be Monday, February 22, at the classic Phillip Island circuit.

“We tried out different spec front forks and rear shocks and we changed the engine character a little bit,” said Rea.

“With the information we gained we can look at over the next week to make sure we arrive at Phillip Island in good shape. We will have two good days on track there, which gives us more time before the races start. I am excited to go there because I have good memories from last year - but it also feels like home. I am just looking forward to putting everything together and having a proper race weekend. That is what we are all working toward so it is an exciting time right now.”

Pere Riba, Jonathan Rea’s Crew Chief, added: “The test was positive. We tried two items that we really wanted to test. We collected some new information and we can put that in our pockets and got to PI. We tried some new fork set-ups just to check them and now we are preparing the bike for round one. We are looking forward to going to Phillip Island.”