A great day for Kawasaki and Jonathan Rea who unveiled the new ZX-10RR My2021 this morning from the pit lane at Jerez de la Frontera. The champion from Northern Ireland had been yearning for a new bike for some time, so that he could bridge the technical gap with Ducati (a gap that Rea had managed to cover, and overcome, with his performance). He was was finally satisfied.
Rea also lapped stronger today than Bradl, Honda’s MotoGP test rider. A great satisfaction, even for a six-time world champion?
“They advised me to do a time attack at the end of the day, but I wasn’t thinking about beating the Honda MotoGP. I was focused on myself. Let’s say that being faster than a MotoGP is a nice plus for this test. However, the two bikes can’t be compared. We have a qualifying tire, but we also ride motorbikes that can be bought in dealerships for 20,000 Euros."
Today you tested the new bike for the first time in its almost final version. What’s new?
“We tried a lot of new things including the fairing, suspensions, rear shocksm and brake components. In addition to all this, work on the engine started yesterday, and the new Pirelli rear tires also needed to continue. It’s been a busy day, and I’ve had a lot of positive feelings from the things we tested. But the biggest challenge of these two days of testing was being fast on the tire for some time. This was the first test for the new season. We still have many things to test, but the first impressions are very positive.”
How important do you think it is for Kawasaki not to have completely revolutionized the SBK project but to have focused on an update of the ZX-10RR?
“I can’t tell if this is a new bike or a huge update to the old one. However, we’ve noticed that there are some nice differences, and it’ll take time to understand everything: the connection between the accelerator and the engine, the new suspensions… .”
Getting back to MotoGP. The championship will end this week in Portimao, the track usually used by the SBK. How do you think the riders will feel in Portugal?
“Portimao is a track that excites riders. It really makes a difference there. The MotoGP has had a good year, since many constructors have been able to win. The track is quite complicated, and it’ll certainly be a fun race, because most of the riders will start from zero.”
If you were to bet on someone, who would you bet on?
“I’d bet on Mir, even if the MotoGP is really unpredictable. Suzuki does everything very well, and the fact that they won the world championship with Joan, is a really good thing. Looking at the Suzuki project from the outside, it looks very similar to my team’s. They’re a team full of humanity. They have good people, and you smile while you work. There are some garages in this paddock too where it seems like they want to put security guards outside.”