New Kawasaki ZX-10RR just shy of Jerez WorldSBK lap record hours after unveiling

Jonathan Rea wastes no time in getting the new Kawasaki ZX-10RR up to speed as it skirts close to the Jerez WorldSBK lap record on the day of its unveiling

2021 Kawasaki ZX-10RR Ninja WorldSBK Jonathan Rea

Jonathan Rea gave the fresh new Kawasaki ZX-10RR a grandstand debut during the WorldSBK test at Jerez, coming to within a tenth of the lap record just hours after the wraps were pulled off the latest generation machine.

Charged with maintaining Kawasaki’s stranglehold on the series having now won each of the last six world titles with Jonathan Rea, the Ulsterman pumped in a 1m 38.324secs lap to top the timesheets in its first outing.

Though the roadgoing model won’t be unveiled in its every day attire until 23 November, the WorldSBK team had the honour of introducing the racing version to the world a few days early, revealing an edgy, angular front-end that draws inspiration from the Z H2.

Together with a flatter fairing and more tapered rear-end, the new ZX-10RR has been designed to be more aerodynamic and improve stability. Despite the impressive debut though, Rea himself was keeping his emotions in check as he expressed his satisfaction with the trouble-free bow.

“We started to work with some items for 2021, part of the test plan KHI sent us,” he said, suggesting it could yet undergo further changes by the time next season rolls around. “Like always we were collecting information and tried many things – a different front fairing to give our feedback to Kawasaki, engine feeling, front fork, some brake items and a front tyre for Pirelli. 

“We did quite a lot of work and I set a lot of laps today with an old tyre. I have not been super-fast with a fresh tyre but the more laps I did on a tyre the faster I got. 

“That is a good problem to have! There were pluses and minuses and we have a lot of information to go back now and assess everything before we return to the track.”

New Kawasaki ZX-10RR fires warning shot to its WorldSBK rivals

Rivals hoping the introduction of a new motorcycle could stutter Jonathan Rea’s hopes of extending his already multiple record-breaking WorldSBK streak might be feeling a little unsettled by the instant pace it has shown in Spain.

Indeed, you can almost hear the collective groan from anyone not wearing Kawasaki garb up and down the pit lane as Rea reclaimed his customary #1 spot towards the end of the day.

However, we must express a few disclaimers first - this is testing after all, so insert all the usual ‘it means nothing’ spiel from riders doing their own programmes. 

Secondly, though we won’t know the numbers of what lurks beneath that edgy new skin until its formal launch on Monday 23 November, from the outset it appears the basic platform has been carried over from its predecessor. If ain’t broke etc etc…

Everyone asked at Kawasaki are being suspiciously tempered in their reaction to the new model’s pace, which could be as much as a lull into false security as it is merely to be expected on fresh tyres and fumes doubling as fuel. After all, topping the timesheets on one’s debut doesn’t hurt pre-launch publicity.

Either way, few bikes come out of the box swinging as impressively as this has, while it’s worth noting Jerez hasn’t always been the most favourable circuit for the ZX-10RR, not that it has a particular weak venue.

We’d hazard a guess BHP tops out closer to the range of the Honda CBR1000RR-R than before (we await Monday’s reveal…), which means we may get a better idea of what strengths the ZX-10RR is packing when it returns to the track in Motorland Aragon next week.

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