PATA Honda riders Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam were pleased to get some relatively trouble-free running in after a difficult pre-season. The British pair were frustrated by electronic problems at Jerez last month but completed 76 laps between them on Monday, enabling them to continue development with the CBR1000RR.
Rea was the quicker of the two in fifth, one place ahead of his new teammate, and was encouraged by the performance of the bike although he still sees room for improvement.
“It can be strange riding at Phillip Island, especially doing so many testing laps over four days. The conditions can change so dramatically – yesterday we had almost 60 degrees of track temperature and today it was less than 25. The wind changed going down the straight, from a tail-wind yesterday to being in our faces today, and the changing conditions can upset the chassis settings on the bike. Yesterday, I didn’t feel that good but today it was 100 times better. We’ve been trying to do a lot of laps on old tyres and we still have some tyre life issues to work on for the race weekend, but I think that’s a common problem up and down pit lane.”
“The tests have finished positively, even though we didn’t get a chance for a maximum time attack. The guys in my crew have been working really hard to get the electronics set up to my exact liking, especially the application of the traction control, but we’ve learned a lot. We still have a lot to do for the weekend – it’s clear that, if we want to go fast on a new tyre, we can, but Phillip Island isn’t about that. It’s about still having a good tyre on lap 22, so there’s still some work to be done.”
Haslam agrees that tyre management will be a key issue come race day on Sunday and will begin the race weekend concentrating on preparing the bike for longer runs.
“Our testing has been frustrating at times and in Jerez last month we lost the first day to the weather and the second day with some electronics teething problems. I think we made more progress in the first three hours here at Phillip Island than in two days in Jerez, so these two tests here have been really important. We haven’t progressed too much more today because we had a problem with the weather this morning and still had some gremlins with the electronics. But we’ve found out what the problem is and, even with the bike cutting out intermittently all the way round my best lap this afternoon, I still managed to do a decent time. We’ve still got more work to do and more things to try but now we go in to Friday looking for a set-up that will make the tyres last on race day. I’m happy to be in that position and, if all goes well, we can maybe try some of those new things, but the priority now is race set-up and tyres.”