The final day of testing in Phillip Island couldn’t have gone any better for Johnny Rea. After setting fourth quickest time on Monday, he then blitzed his rivals on day 2, setting the benchmark for the session.
Everything is looking good for the Northern Irishman, who hasn’t won a race at Phillip Island for three years. Two years ago, it was Melandri who ruined the party, while 365 days ago it was the turn of Alvaro Bautista. But the past is now behind and only the present counts.
"We learned a lot from this test - Rea said – we’ve managed to improve in the last sector and some other parts of the track. I think that’s important. Apart from that, we must remain concentrated, also because here the wind is particularly insidious. This morning it was frontal, while in the afternoon it came across the bike. At the end of the day, however, I can say that the sensations on the bike are positive".
Johnny, what is your current situation with race pace?
“It looks as if Van der Mark has a consistent pace and at the moment, he could be one of the main rivals for the weekend. A lot, however, will depend on the management of the tyres, even if it seems that Michael worked well. The week has just begun however, and we will have to see how it goes."
What do you think of the difficulties Bautista is having?
“I am very surprised, to tell the truth I don't know how much he is really struggling with the bike. Last year he won eleven races in a row, then we all know how it turned out. It's all very strange. For sure, the bike has a great engine and Honda's competitiveness is confirmed by Haslam's performance, so I don't think that's the problem. I consider Alvaro to be an intelligent rider and maybe he is behaving like last year, when he remained hidden in the tests and decided to show his cards only at the weekend".
If you were to put yourself in his shoes, how would you get out of such a situation?
“You have to try and be optimistic. Unfortunately, in Superbike you can't change much and have as many new developments as you do in MotoGP. You have to have confidence in yourself and in the bike, but above all in the people around you. We don't have a new bike, but we continue to experiment, focusing on geometries and balance to be competitive."
On Saturday you will face Redding for the first time. What do you expect from the battle with Scott?
“I didn't see Scott much during the tests, but I imagine that he’s strong. Last year the Ducati won here, and he could do the same as Bautista. He is undoubtedly very talented and was one of Marc Marquez's biggest challengers in the past. He could be up at the front and win races like Alvaro did, even if it won't be easy. Apart from that, he raced in BSB and he certainly does not lack confidence in the bike".
Photo by Dorna