SBK beats MotoGP and the riders of the production-based racing championship will be the first to restart the engines after the winter break, starting tomorrow at Jerez. As has happened for five years now, it will be Jonathan Rea who starts with the number 1 on his fairings and with the task of holding off the attacks of his rivals.
There will also be Ducati, which will be able to count on a Panigale V4 with a year of development behind it and the arrival of Redding; Honda, with a completely new bike and Bautista, not to mention Yamaha. There are many pretenders to the throne, but the northern Irish rider is ready to hold on to the title.
“It is super-nice to start the year with a test at Jerez. We will try to continue on from where we left off last year, when were both fast and consistent. The nicest thing is catching up with the team again and putting all our ideas together. It is important to continue improving the base set-up of our Ninja ZX-10RR.”
The Spanish test will be the only chance to try things out before leaving for the first race.
“We just need to confirm some different directions we took in November and then get ready for Australia. This Jerez test is more about understanding where we left off last year and confirming some things. We just need to keep an eye on the weather forecast, as it is always a gamble in January. We are as far south in Europe as we can be to guarantee consistent weather, but you never really know. Hopefully we can get some good work done. I will enjoy riding my bike again to set us up for going down under in a few weeks’ time.”
If Rea knows his Kawasaki like the back of his hand, the situation is different for Alex Lowes. The team’s new signing must take advantage of every minute to understand the bike and adapt before the championship starts. Time is running out, but the British rider seems to have clear ideas.
“I am looking forward to the tests after the winter break and it is going to be nice to get back out riding. With only these two days scheduled before we get out to Australia for the opening round, I am hoping for some decent weather to get back up to speed and blow the winter cobwebs off.
“We will start getting focused and dialled in for the first race. We had a good first test back in November and since then there have been a few little things that we highlighted I wanted to improve. Even still a few little things with riding position, things like that, so we will focus on them and get as comfy as possible on the bike. That is actually the only target I have got; make sure the bike feels like my own before we get over to Australia and get the year started.”
Team manager Guim Roda is optimistic for 2020. He knows he has Rea as an ace up his sleeve, but he is also focussing on the new arrival Alex Lowes.
“This is an important test to prepare for the opening Australian round. We have all technical jobs done so we have to check a few details at this time; then give the riders the opportunity to make some more kilometres with their bikes on track. More important now is for them to start set their rhythm. I know Johnny and Alex are working even more than ever, so in this area I'm quite calm. I'm totally convinced we have them ready and very well trained. The motivation from Jonathan to continue winning is amazing. How Alex took the chance to improve on his third position from 2019 – to try and surprise everybody in Australia - is incredible.
His last thought is for Australia and the difficulties it is facing.
“I know very well that we will start racing in Australia, where unfortunately they have suffered many bushfires in the last weeks. We hope we can bring a nice show to provide good entertainment to all the Australian fans and give some positive moments to help a little with all the difficult times they have passed through.”