Rea dominates BSB test

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Jonathan Rea continues to dominate pre-season testing on the HM Plant Honda.

When the sun final broke through to Snetterton on Sunday after two days of miserable cold, wet conditions, the HM Plant Honda rider was 0.8s faster than closest rival Leon Haslam.

Rea said: “I’m happy enough with that but we’ve still work to do. I’m just a 20-year-old kid having fun out there. I’m lucky enough to be in a great team and although it’s serious stuff on track, it’s all smiles in our garage.”

Once again, Rea put his team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari in the shade.  The British Champion was fourth quickest but don’t read too much into the times. The team still have a two-day test at Knockhill this week and he’s confident enough going into the first round at Brands Hatch on April 9.

Haslam was second fastest on the Airwaves Ducati. The team have already worked through their pre-season test programme and were only at Snetterton to honour their commitment to the series’ launch and give their riders more track time.

Lavilla was fifth overall on the second Airwaves Ducati. He had an engine lock up but don’t be fooled that the F06 999s are lacking reliability. It was one of the team’s last high-mileage 2006 motors. They have 12 brand new engines ready for the new season.

Tommy Hill posted fourth quickest time – impressive since he’s had what amounts to two days testing in the UK on the all-new Virgin Media Yamaha while most of the top teams have spent weeks in Spain.

He made very few adjustments to the R1 on Sunday, indicating how well balanced the chassis is out of the box. James Haydon didn’t post such competitive times largely because he never got the chance to complete a lap in the final session of the day when his bike had an engine problem.

Shane Byrne only did eight laps in the final session. One bike had an electrical fault so the parts from the other bike were transferred over. Then the rear wheel bearing of the only serviceable bike overheated and he had to pull in – just when he was ready to go for a fast lap. Even so, he wound up sixth overall and is absolutely peaking about the new season.

Team-mate tom Sykes was seventh quickest, confirming the pace of the Stobart Hondas.

Leon Camier was eight quickest as he continues his impressive learning curve on the bike Animal Honda. He’s quietly gone about testing in a methodical way and looks to have really gelled with the bike and his new team.

Rizla Suzuki still have work to do. Cal Crutchlow was ninth, 1.5s off Rea’s pace and Chris Walker tenth almost two seconds off. Crutchlow highsided at Russells late in the day. Walker was again working through chassis settings and, to be fair, was getting to grips with Snetterton again for the first time in seven years!

Michael Rutter was 13th fastest, still with only one bike to work with while the team chase parts to complete a second machine. It wasn’t helped when he crashed at the Bombhole in the wet Saturday practice. The team had to take the bike back to their Essex HQ to rebuild their only Arrow exhaust system.

Steve Plater had a fiery crash late on Sunday – his second off of the day. The first was at the Esses and due to an oil leak. The second was a highside at Russells, even though he had the bike upright and was way out of the corner! Luckily he escaped with nothing worse than bruises and only the plastic tank cover, fairing screen and seat were damaged by the flames.

Click next page for full results

Snetterton times

1 Jonathan Rea HM Plant Honda Racing 1:05.010
2 Leon Haslam  Airwaves Ducati  1:05.829
3  Ryuichi Kiyonari HM Plant Honda Racing 1:05.912 
4 Tommy Hill  Virgin Mobile Yamaha 1:06.106
5  Gregorio Lavilla Airwaves Ducati  1:06.165
6 Shane Byrne  Stobart Honda  1:06.331 
7 Tom Sykes  Stobart Honda  1:06.386
8 Leon Camier  Honda Racing  1:06.473
9 Cal Crutchlow Rizla Suzuki   1:06.570
10 Chris Walker  Rizla Suzuki   1:06.963
11 Simon Andrews Jentin Yamaha  1:06.977 
12 Karl Harris  Hydrex Honda  1:07.737
13  Michael Rutter MSS Discovery Kawasaki 1:07.764
14 Ollie Bridewell Team NB Suzuki  1:07.790
15 Tommy Bridewell Team NB Suzuki  1:07.834
16 Peter Hickman Hawk Kawasaki  1:07.841
17 Steve Plater  AIM Young   1:08.094 
18 James Haydon Virgin Mobile Yamaha 1:08.213
19 Scott Smart  Hawk Kawasaki  1:08.278
20 Chris Martin  Red Viper Honda  1:08.516
21 Dean Thomas Samsung Suzuki  1:08.912 
22 Guy Martin  Hydrex Honda  1:08.951 
23 Michael Howarth THR Honda   1:09.401
24 Sean Emmett PR Branson-Honda  1:09.590
25 Malcolm Ashley MAR Kawasaki  1:10.119 
26  Tom Tunstall  Hardinge Honda  1:10.672
27  Nick Medd  Jentin Yamaha  1:11.396 
28 Paul Barron  PBM Yamaha  1:11.519

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Gary Pinchin

By Gary Pinchin