And just think that on Wednesday he had even bought plane tickets to return home, since the weather forecast promised rain. Instead the conditions improved, and Johnny Rea thought better to stay at Jerez and see how the day would go. He strolled along the pit lane, talked to the mechanics in the garage, then decided to put on his race suit, go out on the track and set a time of 1m40.983s that earned him the benchmark of the two days.
Rea was the only man to break through the 1m41s barrier, then the rain brought an early end to proceedings. A pity, one could say, since after a Wednesday conditioned by the rain, we were gearing up for some fun with the head-to-head battle that was shaping up between Kawasaki’s Northern Irish rider and Toprak Razgatlioglu on the Yamaha.
Yeah, the Turk who grew up under the teachings of maestro Rea and who now, on the R1, wants to knock him off the throne he has held for five years. Toprak can no longer hide, since the factory Yamaha team has gambled on him to aim straight for the World Championship. Razgatlioglu knows this well, as does Rea, who is well aware of the threat. That's why when conditions improved yesterday, Johnny didn't think twice about getting on the bike to put things straight, as if to say: "Here I’m the one in charge".
It was a message sent directly to Toprak, who was caught out by the rain, since he already had two new tyres ready to use; instead he did not have the opportunity to respond due to the bad weather.
As we all know, these are just tests, but Rea still wanted to send a clear signal, starting with the Turkish youngster, who in this preseason is proving to be a threat, then extending it to Honda. At Jerez, everyone was anxiously waiting for the CBR 1000 RR-R that is aiming high with the Haslam-Bautista pairing. Johnny realizes the threat posed by Alvaro, the one who last year almost put an end to his domination in Superbike. For his part, the #19 didn’t have the slightest intention of responding to the Kawasaki rider after Leon's best time on Wednesday.
He preferred to continue his work, without showing his cards ahead of time. Yes, because we will only get an idea of the true competitiveness of this Honda in the first races, starting from Phillip Island and Qatar, despite the fact that those two tracks are "particular", before arriving back in Europe.
The fact is that in this sort of three-way confrontation, we have in some ways forgotten Ducati, which last year dominated the World Championship until June. We certainly don't want to devalue the Italian squad and its riders, but as Serafino Foti told us, these two days of testing were virtually useless, to the point that they couldn’t even test the updates. As if that weren't enough, Chaz even ended up on the ground, slowing down his work, which doesn’t yet revolve around looking for fast times. Scott instead hammered away without too much delay, trying to get to grips with the V4 more and more and, as we could see, all the signs look promising.
We will get a better idea of the situation on Sunday and Monday, during the Portimao tests, where all the top teams will be present except for Kawasaki.