Jonathan Rea on the new Kawasaki ZX-10RR – while many other drivers and teams are twiddling their thumbs, the Northern Irishman is busy testing with his team and is not afraid of any expense and price. The family man would definitely like to be at home with his wife and children, but he definitely wants to know again this season (© Kawasaki Racing Team).

Kawasaki goes to Portugal on 4th & 5th March on the track

According to Kawasaki’s preliminary report on the Portimão Test in early March, Alex Lowes is still protecting his shoulder, while the reigning world champion wants to know exactly. This year the teams were largely unlucky with the previous conditions. January was cold and wet in Jerez de la Frontera, even after postponing to a week later. Therefore, it was planned early on to hit the track again at the Autodromo do Algarve. Along with Aragon, this is a course with a very long straight, unlike the Circuito de Jerez. Last year Jonathan Rea was in a class of his own there and won all 3 races, making him world championship leader for the first time.

The huge main grandstand of the Autodromo do Algarve near the coastal city of Portimão photographed by us from above the pit area in 2019. Due to the lightning-fast Ducati Panigale V4R with lightweight Alvaro Bautista as driver, Rea hardly had a chance against the little Spaniard on many tracks. But Kawasaki stepped up, and now he has received a new Ninja ZX-10RR for the coming season, which should hardly be inferior on the straights, like the older model before it.

The reigning 6-time world champion on the upcoming test

Jonathan Rea stated: „It’s wonderful to test one more time and I look forward to riding the bike – especially in these strange and unfamiliar times. Since we tested in November and then recently in Jerez, we’ve achieved a certain consistency with the Kawasaki Racing Team (KRT). It’s good to keep the rhythm going with the new Ninja ZX-10RR-before the season starts. We have already tested some new ideas with the performance characteristics of the engine, although the weather conditions at the time were not 100%. The most important thing we need to do on this test is to confirm things on the engine side and then correct our gear ratios. We want to further increase the speed and confidence.

Jonathan Rea 2019 photographed by us in a paddock interview after his first win of the season in only the 12th race of the year in Imola. About 10 minutes after this picture was taken, he gave us the visor from his helmet as a souvenir.
The present of the best rider ever in WorldSBK, just hours after he gave it to us. It has a place of honor on our mantelpiece, as a symbol of tireless fighting spirit.

Why tests are very important

There’s a plethora of new motorcycles and parts out there for 2021. Kawasaki is using their new ZX-10RR, BMW is using the brand new M 1000RR and Yamaha is starting a further development of their YZF-R1. Honda came out on the track with the CBR-1000RR-R much less than originally planned. Just eight laps compared to the planned thirteen laps meant that HRC Honda lost a lot of potentially useful track time as a result. Then there were the problems with the freedom of travel for the Japanese engineers. From the end of the 2020 season to the end of the 2021 season, only ten days of private testing are allowed for each team and driver. The constraints mean that any time spent testing must now be useful to the team.

Leon Haslam 2004 on Ducati – the HRC Honda driver also drove for Honda from 2008 to 2009 and 2013 to 2014, with Suzuki and BMW in between. Later for Aprilia and Kawasaki before returning to Honda the year before. For more about the earlier years of the HRC Honda pilot and the beginnings of the WSBK, see our ever-growing history (© WorldSBK).

Provisional test plan and calendar

Portimao test: 4th – 5th March
Jerez test: 9th – 10th March (Honda only)
Misano test: 15th – 16th March
Estoril test: 24th – 25th March
Barcelona test: March 31st – 1st April
MotorLand Aragon test: April 12th – 13th

A third revised version of the temporary Dorna calendar is expected in the near future. The overseas races were questionable from the start and several question marks were in the planning right from the first edition. So far, Assen has only been postponed from April to July.