Jonathan Rea, Pata Honda’s race ace, returned to action during testing sessions at Motorland Aragon in Spain. Over the course of two days, Rea put his Honda Fireblade superbike through its paces along with his team mate, Leon Haslam. Rea – who crashed at high speed at the Nürburgring in Germany in September – broke his left femur and missed the final four rounds of the World Superbike Championship, as a result. Although the expert rider had taken to his Fireblade CBR1000RR during a single day test at Jerez in Spain in October, as reported in Superbike News, this was the first time he had recovered enough from his injury to ride under intense and race-like conditions.
The 26 year old Honda man focused on developing the electronics system of his Fireblade as well as variety of chassis set ups at the 5,344 metre circuit. Motorland Aragon had been the venue for round two of the Superbike Championship earlier this year and proved to be the ideal place to test the new bike for the coming season.
Rea tweeted that he felt he had got into his groove following the launch of the new Fireblade. “We worked a lot on the electronic set up to give me confidence to ride how I want,” he said. “We also tried some chassis settings around the 2014 specifications for the Öhlins front forks, which were interesting.”
Honda announced in November that further engine enhancements for their Super Sport flagship bike were due next year. This includes a new special edition model which is equipped with Öhlins suspension and Brembo brakes that, they hope, will provide even sharper circuit performance.
Rea, who attained a best lap time of 1 minute and 57.4 seconds during the sessions, said that he was satisfied with the team’s work at Aragon and that he had enjoyed the return to riding a great deal. “Now, I am looking forward to another test at Jerez where I hope my physical condition will be a little stronger than it has been here,” he added.
Leon Haslam, who posted a best lap time over a second behind Rea’s, said that on the first day that he was only able to complete about 30 test laps, which was disappointing. “But day two was much better and we got through a lot of things on our checklist,” he said.
Pieter Breddels, technical coordinator with the team, was satisfied with both riders’ work, despite some relatively cold and blustery track conditions. “Jonathan made some improvements to the chassis configuration and the electronics stability that gave him the confidence to push for better lap times,” he said. “Leon improved his traction control and the on-throttle feeling as well as working on chassis settings.”
All World Superbike Championship teams are now prevented from testing under the winter break regulation, which comes to an end in mid-January.