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WSB Champ Rea Beats MotoGP Pole Time During Jerez Test


A Winter test session at Jerez ended earlier this week with Kawasaki WSB champ Jonathan Rea setting a lap time on his superbike that was quicker than the lap that took pole during the MotoGP race earlier this year. The MotoGP pole was awarded to Valentino Rossi aboard his Yamaha, but Rea eclipsed that lap time during the Jerez test that just ended. Rea was using a WSB qualifying tire when he set the fastest lap.

This was a joint test involving WSB riders and MotoGP riders, although the very top MotoGP riders were missing (Repsol Honda, Factory Ducati and Factory Yamaha). Rea’s lap time is not the fastest-ever lap at the circuit … Jorge Lorenzo holds that record – set on his Yamaha MotoGP bike during the Bridgestone tire era.

Although the top MotoGP riders, had they been present at the test, would likely have beaten Rea’s lap time, we can learn a couple of things. First, the changes Kawasaki made to its homologated superbike platform this year seem to have improved the bike’s performance (see the comments from Rea and Sykes in the press release below), second, top WSB riders (Ducati’s Chaz Davies was also very quick during the test) could certainly compete in MotoGP, and third, the current WSB Pirelli tires are very, very good.

After a week of testing at Jerez in Spain Kawasaki Racing Team riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes set impressive lap times as they shared the circuit with some of the main 2017 rivals and several top MotoGP runners. Riding the 2017-spec Ninja ZX-10RR Rea set the fastest individual lap time of the tests on a dry track on Thursday, with Sykes the third fastest WorldSBK rider and the fifth fastest rider overall.

After two tests in quick succession – at Motorland Aragon last week and Jerez this week – the KRT squad has completed the 2016 sector of its overall winter test plan in positive fashion.

KRT was joined by several KHI staff at Jerez to help properly evaluate the new WorldSBK specification chassis and engine materials, which have been adapted for the recently launched ZX-10RR. Each rider had two machines to test, to allow for meaningful back-to-back comparisons.

The Jerez test for KRT featured three dry days in the middle of the week, bracketed by two wet days on Monday and Friday. Neither of the riders took to the track on Friday 25th, as conditions had deteriorated so much. Rea left Jerez with a track best of 1’38.721 while using a qualifying rear tyre with Sykes setting a 1’39.461, again on a ‘Q’ rear tyre. Rea was even more pleased with the 1’39.5 lap time he set on race tyres than his best-of-test flying lap of 1’38.721.

Rea had completed his pre-planned schedule by Thursday afternoon but a crash for Sykes earlier the same day lost him some track time just as his crew had fitted all the most promising new parts and settings to his number one machine. He still managed to complete a fast lap time on his spare machine and enjoyed consistent pace over distance.

A break in track action now begins for the team, with the winter test schedule restarting at Jerez on 24th January 2017.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “It has been a very successful test with three days of very consistent weather. We also got a morning of wet conditions in which we confirmed a few things, especially a new Showa rear shock. I have to thank all at KRT for giving us this long test and KHI for bringing some extra engineering staff. Thanks to Showa for continuing to develop new parts for us and bringing them to the track. We did two race simulations on Thursday that we were very happy with. We can go into the winter in great shape and with a lot of confidence for next season. Having the new Ninja ZX-10RR has let us fix some of our weaker points, as our engine is a little bit stronger than before, with some extra RPM. That is always an added bonus. We can be optimistic for 2017. Looking back on 2016 it has been an incredible year to finish off here with a successful test I want to say thanks to all my team and all my crew, everyone inside KRT and KHI for these last few days.”

Tom Sykes, stated: “During the Aragon tests and also here at Jerez I feel we have been doing good work. For sure we have still not hit the nail on the head but the good thing is we are doing a lot of trial and elimination. Even here, where I was not entirely happy with my feeling, we managed to put in good lap times. Both myself and Jonathan seem to be able to do consistent lap times, which is promising. I had a crash on Thursday that stopped me using my preferred machine but still we were able to continue testing. We know we can do what is required on whatever set-up we have, but now we are going to have a few weeks to relax, refresh and recharge the batteries. I am confident that with the information we now have we can put the jigsaw together in January and start testing again from there.”

Pere Riba, Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea, stated: “Always in the winter time we try to follow all the items we have that Japan has prepared. Chassis engine, suspension, everything. We focused not to set the bike up for the racetrack; we focused to try out the parts. I know the potential of Kawasaki as a manufacturer, Johnny, the team, everybody, but still it has been so positive here. With a Q tyre we made a big, big step forward. With a race tyre our target was to improve the durability in the second part of the race. It seems like we have made another step. I can say that we reached our targets for the first part of the winter tests. We are very pleased to be in the shape that we are in and with all the information we have.”

Marcel Duinker, Crew Chief for Tom Sykes, stated: “Jerez was more complex for us than the recent Aragon test. The bike is harder for Tom to manage because of his unique way of riding and we have had to compensate for this by improving the chassis performance. We made some very fundamental steps on the bike set-up, with some good and not so good results. We have enough data to really study in the winter break and we will be able to bring all the good points together before we start testing again in January. We have a lot of information from the last five years, and three more tests before we go racing at Phillip Island. I am sure we can give Tom a proper bike set-up before the first race in Australia.”

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  1. ze says:

    Impressive but i’d like to see the the main GP riders at the test. Track conditions change and the times change. Baz and Miller were at both and stayed in the same teams/bikes. Baz did 1.40.1 at the race’s qualifying and 1.39.1 at the test – 1 second better. Miller 1.40.3 and 1.40.9 – 0.6 better.

  2. Choco says:

    I subscribe to BeIn sports and they do a good job on both WSB and MotoGP. They even show MOTO GP qualifying.

  3. Norm G. says:

    re: “Although the top MotoGP riders, had they been present at the test, would likely have…”

    …hung their heads, and proceeded to take the “Long Walk of Shame” back to their caravans (err, their motorhomes).

    • Dave says:

      I bet they avoid having both classes on the same track for this reason.

      I remember when Matt Mladin tested his AMA SBK somewhere the WSBK guys had a lot of time.history and ran faster then they did. It made a fairly big stink with WSBK riders (Troy Corser in particular) feeling the need to defend their recent performances.

  4. silver says:

    That’s damn impressive to set a time like that on a SBK

  5. Mugwump says:

    I guess I’m weird, I enjoy SBK and WSS, go PJ! But then I watch Moto 2 & 3 too.

  6. dt 175 says:

    A lot of this is Pere Riba. Ten Kate never made Jonny look this good…

    • Randy D. says:

      That’s because Rea was racing an also ran Honda then. Hayden won 1 race in the rain on Rea’s old Honda this year.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “A lot of this is Pere Riba. Ten Kate never made Jonny look this good”

        re: “That’s because Rea was racing an also ran Honda”

        the answer is C, my scientific principle known as NATCORK (No Amount of Talent Can Overcome Recalcitrant Kit). this has since been written into Law and it is “iron clad”.

        • jimmihaffa says:

          Technically Norm, the correct answer is D or the relativistic sometimes known as the Gamed NATCORK principle…yes, GNATCORK…since Kawasaki is essentially running their MOTOGP program in WSBK we have here a case of a virtual recalcitrant in Kawasaki ZX10RR clothing

  7. Gary says:

    Go Jonnie go. Give that man a GP bike. Let’s see what he can do. He may be a natch-oo-ral.

  8. Randy D. says:

    How long a straightaway does Jerez have? Some of the GP tracks have short straights like Laguna Seca and that’s when the difference between GP & SB lap times are not far apart. Give the GP bikes long straights and they’re gone. Though as spectators we can’t really tell that much differences in speeds of the 2 race designs. It would be interesting to see a GP bike vs. a SB bike racing on the same track together. Then we could see differences if there were any.

    • mickey says:

      Im pretty sure if Marquez on his bike and Rea on the Kaw were on the same track at the same time for a 28 lap race Rea would pretty much feel what the lower 10 MotoGP riders feel like and wonder where in the heck Marquez went. He would probably be duking it out with the Aprilia’s and KTM’s, if doing that well.

      • Fivespeed302 says:

        Mickey I totally agree. WSB could potentially compete in the rain or on tracks with short straights, but as soon as the straights stretch out, it’s game over. Sort of like Superbike vs Superstock, but probably more dramatic of a difference.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “It would be interesting to see a GP bike vs. a SB bike racing on the same track together.”

      see entry for CRT, we’ve seen this movie.

      • HM says:

        Correct and I’ll add that JR subbed for 26 at least once on the mighty Repsol Honda and finished around 8th iirc?

  9. Artem says:

    GP are 50 kilo lighter. Strange.
    (Orizont – Arrowwood), 1977. Hello from USSR

  10. notarollingroadblock says:

    I’m wondering if this result isn’t a Dorna set-up to hype the lagging WSBK series. None of the fast MotoGP guys/bikes/teams were there. Regardless, impressive speed by the top WSBK guys. Maybe if Dorna would stream a better show of their races we’d start watching them. I found production and video quality of the WSBK VideoPass lacking. Not to mention green bikes hogging the podium.

    • JSH says:

      When did you stop watching WSB? In the 2016 season the wins were:

      Kawasaki: 14
      Ducati: 11
      Honda: 1

      • Scott says:

        Kawasaki was on the podium 43 times in 26 races. That’s not hogging the podium?

        • JSH says:

          Not when a Ducati ended up on the top step for the last 6 races straight, Sykes only got 2nd place due to team orders, and the manufacturer’s title was 582 Kawasaki vs 517 Ducati.

          At any given race either the Kawasaki or Ducati could have ended up in first place.

          • mickey says:

            Gee that sounds a lot more exciting than MotoGP ( rolls eyes)

          • JSH says:

            I didn’t say WSB is better or worse than MotoGP. This is the first year I’ve watched WSB, I found it to be interesting and really like the two race per weekend format. The videopass worked fine for me.

            I believe both series had interesting seasons in 2016.

  11. JPJ says:

    MotoGP regulations / rules, is to much oversight, for controlling cost. WSBK is great racing, but will soon be over regulated. You have to control cost, have rules all manufactures can agree upon or else they’ll not participate. Look at the current state of our own MotoAmerica series. Only Yamaha and Suzuki compete with factory backing. Superstock / Supersport bikes fill the grids yet are just a second or two slower. What’s your answer for competitive racing?

    • Dave says:

      If AMA is as you say then its formula is perfect. The lack of factory participation is the result of a weak US motorcycle sales market, not racing conditions.

      MotoGP used to have less regulation and back then, there were 12 bikes on the grid (while Moto2, with its strict rules, had 40). It was a dead series.

  12. Sweet Willie says:

    Its amazing that a superbike has set such a fast time. Doesn’t look good for the rest of the WSBK teams.

  13. bmbktmracer says:

    Maybe the MotoGP era has run its course. Not sure what’s being gained anymore, now that production-based streetbikes have nearly equal performance at probably 5 to 10% of the cost.

    • mickey says:

      There is not much on Sykes and Rea’s bikes that are actually on the street bike you would walk into a Kawasaki dealership and buy, despite appearances to the contrary.

      • Dave says:

        There is a great deal of the street bike content in the factory bike. The rules say there has to be.

      • mickey says:

        Well the interviews above with Rea and Riba, says KHI showed up with WSBK spec frames and engine parts, Showa brought special shocks and forks. i’m sure the wheels and brakes are not the same you’d find on the show room floor, so frame, suspension, motor, wheels, brakes are all special? What’s left from the show room model?

        • Dave says:

          Read the rules. You can download here:

          All of the major components are homologated (frame, engine case, head, pistons, rods, etc).

          10’s of thousands of dollars in prep & mods that result in only a few of seconds per lap in the hands of a pro rider. I consider that close to production.

        • Brian says:

          Seems to me that Superbike vs. Superstock 1000 is probably the best way to get a feel for what a track-prepped streetbike would theoretically do versus a full-on superbike. Looks like 2-3 seconds per lap…an eternity in racing, but pretty impressive from a consumer perspective.

    • MGNorge says:

      Also to mention, if the manufacturers were allowed to run their MotoGP bikes unfettered you would see a significant difference.

    • marloweluke says:

      Yet MOTOGP is hugely successful and popular at the moment. Exciting racing and large crowds. WSB just isn’t getting that at the moment. I think MOTOGP’s future looks very bright. I wish WSB was as exciting, some of the races are a little dull.

    • Norm G. says:

      Q: Not sure what’s being gained anymore (?)

      A: noise.

      “MotoGeep” now sits high atop the “sonic food chain”. like so much Tesla Model S, the woosh and gurgle sound of turbo F1 won’t get you arrested.

  14. Rich Gereg says:

    In retrospect, it would have been interesting to see how Ben Spies would have fared had he stayed in WSB. A successful transition to GP isn’t a sure thing.

  15. Randy D. says:

    Sounds like Sykes needs to change his riding style to beat his team mate Rea.

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