Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty in World Superbike winter test action at Jerez

World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea will resume winter testing on Wednesday at Jerez in Spain as the countdown to next month’s opening round of the 2019 series clicks into gear.

Jonathan Rea topped the times at the winter test at Jerez in Spain in November.

Rea, who topped the last test at Jerez in November on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR, will complete two days of testing at the Spanish circuit before travelling on to Portimao in Portugal for a further two-day stint on Sunday and Monday.

Rea said: “I am excited to see my team and all the guys. I had a training camp last week in Barcelona and I saw quite a few of them but this will be the first time we will get together as a group.

“Hopefully we can pick up where we left off at the last test. It has been a long, long winter but I arrive feeling refreshed and recharged after a lot of time at home.

Eugene Laverty will make his debut for Team Go Eleven at Jerez on the new Ducati V4 R.

“We expect some new material in preparation to build our base package at the start of the year.

“The tests at the end of last year were all about trying out different items and now we can put them all together and begin performance testing,” he added.

“I am excited because we were fast in Jerez in November, so I hope we can have some good weather this time.”

Rea is poised to challenge for a record-breaking fifth world crown this year after equalling the record of titles held by Carl Fogarty in 2018.

The 31-year-old faces new opposition in the form of ex-MotoGP contender Alvaro Bautista, who teams up with Chaz Davies in the official Ducati team to ride the new V4 R machine.

Northern Ireland’s Eugene Laverty will also be in action at Jerez, where he will have the chance to ride the much-vaunted Ducati himself as he makes his debut for Team Go Eleven.

The Toome man was left out in the cold after Shaun Muir signed Tom Sykes to lead his new-look BMW squad this year, but Laverty managed to secure a late deal to ride the Italian machine and the 32-year-old cannot wait to get started.

“I’ve been counting down the days until my first ride on the new V4 Ducati and finally the day has arrived,” he said.

“I’m excited to try the bike for the first time but also to begin working with Team Go Eleven at the track. My aim is to understand the potential of the bike and that will allow me to set a clear objective for the season ahead.”

Phillip Island will host the opening round from February 22-24