Kawasaki

Crunching The Numbers: Jonathan Rea vs MotoGP vs WorldSBK - An Analysis

The start of December marks the beginning of what is rapidly becoming a tradition in the world of motorcycle racing. After the Jerez test in late November, it is now "Why Is Jonathan Rea Faster Than A MotoGP Bike" season. At Jerez, Rea pushed his Kawasaki ZX-10R WorldSBK machine – down 35+ bhp and up 10+ kg – to the fourth fastest overall time of the week, ahead of eleven MotoGP regulars (including two rookies), three MotoGP test riders and Alex Márquez, who the Marc VDS team were using to train up the new crew recruited to look after Tom Luthi's side of the garage while the Swiss rider is still injured.

How is this possible? And what does this mean? Are WorldSBK machines too close to MotoGP bikes? Why are MotoGP manufacturers spending ten times as much to be shown up at a test by Jonathan Rea? And why, for the sake of all that is holy, does Jonathan Rea not have a MotoGP ride?

The answer to all but the last of those questions is buried away in the bigger picture of the laps posted throughout the week. When you examine the numbers, the picture is a lot more complex than the headline times seem to suggest. Tires, temperature, and track all play a part. But all of that can't disguise a rather outsize dose of talent.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The truth behind Britain, MotoGP and World Superbike

Many Britons wonder why British riders do so well in WSB and not so well in MotoGP. It’s a long story, says Mat Oxley…

Congratulations are due to Jonathan Rea; heaps of congratulations: his MotoGP-beating lap time at Jerez last week, his history-making third consecutive World Superbike title, his record-breaking points haul, his MBE, his BBC Sports Personality of the Year nomination and much, much more. All richly deserved by a great talent riding at his peak.

But as for all the WSB versus MotoGP talk of recent days – following last week’s combined WSB/MotoGP tests at Jerez – it’s just hypothetical barroom banter. Sam Lowes knows this better than most, having competed in WSB, MotoGP, World Supersport and Moto2. On Saturday he tweeted, “Stupid all the talk about WSB and MotoGP at Jerez. Means nothing. Lots of awesome riders on awesome bikes. Different tyres. Impossible comparison.”

Just like last November, when Rea also topped the Jerez tests, social media has been buzzing with the Northern Irishman’s performance; with many wondering why he hasn’t been signed by a MotoGP team.

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Jerez WorldSBK & MotoGP Test Wednesday Notes: Hard Work, Secretive Factories, And New Asphalt

It has been a very busy track at Jerez, with a total of 27 bikes on track at some point or other on Wednesday, with a good mixture of MotoGP, WorldSBK, and the Honda Racing BSB team of Jason O'Halloran and Dan Linfoot. What the first day of testing showed is that the WorldSBK bikes are almost as fast as a MotoGP machine – or at least, a Kawasaki is, shod with qualifiers and ridden with sufficient attitude by Tom Sykes in this case – and that the new surface means the track is a good deal quicker than it was when the MotoGP race was held here back in May. Full times are here.

As it is a private test, there is very little official communication from the teams, despite the fact that a group of journalists – including myself – is here in the paddock. KTM and Suzuki have been forthcoming and helpful, Ducati are cagey, Aprilia don't have much to test, and Honda are secretive – and all of the work is currently falling on Cal Crutchlow's shoulders, as the Repsol Honda team are saving their test days for next year. Honda are not as secretive as Yamaha, however, who are holding their private test over in Sepang, under a virtual media blackout. All we know about that is that Valentino Rossi, Maverick Viñales, Johann Zarco, and Kohta Nozane will be on the bike, as Jonas Folger is still not fit enough to be riding.

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Jonathan Rea On The 2018 WorldSBK Rules: "I Genuinely Hope It Works"

When the 2018 WorldSBK season begins, Jonathan Rea will face arguably the biggest test of his reign as the series champion. He spoke to us about the changes

Three years of unparalleled success have seen Jonathan Rea notch up 39 victories, 70 podiums and three WorldSBK titles. To put those numbers into context, only Carl Fogarty, Troy Bayliss, and Nori Haga have won more races in their WorldSBK careers. It truly has been a historic run of form for Rea and Kawasaki.

For WorldSBK, though, the achievements have been outweighed by the reaction of fans to these results. Feeling that significant changes were needed to ensure a more competitive balance for the field, they have introduced a wide range of new regulations to curtail the Kawasaki dominance. The goal isn't to stop Rea and Kawasaki winning but simply to allow other manufacturers to get on an even keel.

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New WorldSBK Rules For 2018 - Will Rev Limits Transform World Superbikes?

The World Superbike championship has moved to address the performance disparities which have seen Kawasaki and Ducati dominate in recent seasons. The Superbike Commission, the rule-making body for the WorldSBK series, today announced a series of measures to ensure greater parity among teams and factories. The measures, which will enter into force in 2018, see rev limits replacing weight penalties and air restrictors as a performance balancing mechanism, and a performance-based concession point system for allowing engine updates during the season.

The changes fall into three main categories: the performance balancing system, a system of concession points, and the price capping of a range of suspension, chassis, and engine parts related to performance. The performance balancing system and the concession points system are aimed at creating more parity between different manufacturers, while the price capping of certain parts is aimed at both limiting costs, and of ensuring that all teams have access to the same parts.

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Sylvain Guintoli, Ant West To Race In Jerez

The WorldSBK grid at Jerez will be full of replacement riders, as injury takes its toll, not just on the regular riders, but also on possible replacements. Sylvain Guintoli is to step in and replace the still injured and departing Randy Krummenacher in the Kawasaki Puccetti team for the rest of the season, the Swiss rider having previously fractured his wrist. Guintoli will ride for the Puccetti team in both the remaining rounds this year, at Jerez and at Qatar.

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Subscriber Interview: Mike Leitner, Part 2 - On Bradley Smith, MotoGP As The Champions League, And Signing A Top Rider

KTM's MotoGP project has made remarkably rapid progress in the short period since it started. All three of the Austrian factory's riders – factory men Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith, and test rider Mika Kallio – have already scored top ten finishes, and the gap to the leading bikes has been cut from three seconds a lap to three quarters of a second.

I sat down with KTM team manager Mike Leitner to discuss the progress. In the first part of the interview, published yesterday, Leitner talked about the technical concepts behind the machine, why the steel trellis frame is here to stay, and the advantage of using suspension supplied by WP, the company owned by Red Bull. Leitner also talked about just how important a role Mika Kallio has played in the development of the bike.

In the second half of the interview, Leitner discusses the issues Bradley Smith has faced in adapting to the bike, and how KTM has been trying to address them. He also talks about the long-term future of the project, and whether KTM will be going after a top-level rider like Marc Márquez, with all of the top riders being out of contract at the end of 2018.

Q: I wanted to ask about the difference between Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith. Pol is totally adapted to the bike. Bradley seems to struggle a lot more. Do you have an explanation for why that is?

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