Jonathan Rea tested his 2024 Yamaha at Jerez on Monday, the first of a two-day test.
He first hopped on his new team’s machine at a postseason test last month but, as he was joined by teammate Andrea Locatelli for the first time, the hard testing began.
His adaption to the Yamaha was the key goal for Monday.
“The speed and reaction from the Yamaha guys between the first test and this one, just to bring some hardware that suits him better in terms of rider position and just small preferences, I think he’s been delighted that stuff has been designed, manufactured and delivered and bolted to the bike to his request,” team principal Paul Denning said.
“There’s no doubting their commitment to get the bike to suit him.
“He’s not really had to adapt his riding style, he looks very comfortable as he did at the first test.
“As always, it’s the last couple of tenths that are the challenge in terms of outright pace and consistency.
“The more he gets to know the bike and the more he can exploit its advantages, the more that pace will come.
“On the basis of what we’ve seen so far, it could’ve been a bit of a worry – I think he said as much himself.
“Whether, after nine years on the same bike, he could ride something new. However, I think those doubts were expelled after 15 laps on the first test day.”
Denning explained how acceleration was the target: “You can’t get through all the test-list componentry and hardware if you’re continuing changing the setup of the bike, looking for outright performance.
“Both riders did two or three base runs, just to get to a position where the bike was relatively comfortable and then started the test programme. Given that fact, the consistency and level of performance was really encouraging.”
“We’re looking for more acceleration and obviously, if you accelerate better then you have better top speed; we tested a lot of mechanical parts across engine and chassis to aid our overall performance.
“If I say ‘a rear swingarm’ or ‘fork clamp’ then it’s a piece of hardware that, honestly as the team manager, you get to a certain level where you’re not going to be looking at the bike going ‘wow, that’s brand new’.
“The changes are very nuanced and carefully thought out; the R1 is a bike that is not a new machine, so the changes we’re making are very much based on everything the engineers and the team already know.
“We’re just looking to eke out that last little bit of performance. The level of the bike is already very competitive and very good; in order to become World Champion, there’s still a big gap between Alvaro Bautista and the rest of the field in the points at the end of the year.
“We’ve got work to do and that’s why we’re here doing 750km today. It’s great to do that amount, especially for Jonathan, as nothing beats the experience of the bike becoming yours after so many laps.”
Rea is hoping that joining Yamaha from Kawasaki will deliver him a seventh WorldSBK championship.
“All manufacturers and teams are looking to improve their packages for next season and try to become World Champion; we’re in that group and therefore, development never stops and the quest for increased performance never stops,” Denning said.
“We tested elements that will help with outright speed and hardware components, searching for more stability, grip and corner entry speed.
“Some big stuff, some small stuff and we split the work load between the riders and had a super solid day.
“Jonny did 88 laps across three bikes and then 82 laps for ‘Loka’ across two different bikes.
“That’s 750km-odd across both of them so that’s a lot of data for the guys to look at. In terms of mileage, consistency and without problems or crashes, it was a very productive day indeed.”
Rea and Locatelli will test again on Tuesday.
Denning explained the plan for the second day in Jerez: “Based on the feedback and the data, the plan this evening will be to try and put the best combinations together for both of the riders tomorrow.
“Start with the best combination of today and work through the testing programme for tomorrow. We’ve got some front fork stuff from Ohlins, a swingarm and other bits as well.
“There’s a lot that hasn’t yet been tested. It’s also quite positive that we’re testing separately in terms of the other teams because we don’t know based on track conditions but we’re only half a second off Cal on the Grand Prix bike and the lap time is very good.
“The boys aren’t going slowly but if for example, Ducati were here and going a little bit quicker than us at this stage, it doesn’t matter.
“It’s more important that the riders and the crews stay focused on the test stuff and that we develop the very best bike we can for 2024, are fast when we leave the final test in January and ready to compete at Phillip Island.”
Keyword: Yamaha detail what Jonathan Rea worked on during latest test of new bike