New tech rules for 2018 but the name Rea appeared at the top of the timesheets all the same on day one at Jerez, with a 1’39.862 best lap of the session.
In dry and largely sunny conditions the six hours of track time were used to the absolute limit by 27 riders, the bulk of them on WorldSBK machines.
The lead Yamaha on the opening day belonged to Alex Lowes, who split the KRT pairing of Rea and Sykes by going second overall. He was 0.202 seconds slower than Tuesday’s best time.
Rea was 0.316 seconds faster than his KRT team-mate Tom Sykes, who finished third in the rankings after one day on his latest spec Kawasaki.
Fourth fastest rider proved to be the highly experienced Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing Ducati) who went very close to Sykes’ best time with a 1.40.238.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing Ducati) placed fifth, with the other Pata Yamaha of Michael van der Mark just completing the top six riders. Two Kawasakis, two Ducatis and two Yamahas were also a familiar sight right at the top of the test times and 2017 race results, whatever order they were placed in.
Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) and Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda) were seventh and eighth respectively and very close in their best times to Van der Mark. Camier was only just over one second slower than Rea.
Test rider for Yamaha, Niccolo Canepa, was an impressive ninth quickest, one position ahead of the second official Aprilia of Lorenzo Savadori in the new look Milwaukee squad.
Recent MotoGP riders Loris Baz (Althea BMW) worked on his electronics set-up on day one to go 11th fastest, and nearly-full-time WorldSBK Ducati rider, Michael Ruben Rinaldi, secured 12th place. He will compete in all the European rounds of the championship for sure, and some others if results and budgets allow.
Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was 13th fastest, with Leon Haslam (Kawasaki BSB) a sound 14th.
The all-new Panigale V4 WorldSBK test machine of Lorenzo Zanetti was 15th fastest of the 27 riders on show. BSB regular Luke Mossey was 20th. Fastest WorldSSP rider proved to be Raffaele De Rosa on an MV Agusta, 21st overall.
One more day of Jerez testing will take place tomorrow, 24th January.
By Gordon Ritchie