Brno WorldSBK: Tensions boil over between Rea and Sykes

Picture: GeeBee Images

If you only listened to Jonathan Rea (KRT) about his race two crash, then it was definitely his Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes’ fault. If you only listened to Tom Sykes, it was definitely Jonathan Rea’s fault.

In the end result, despite the incident that caused Rea to fall shortly before the end of the third lap being put under investigation by race control, there was no further action taken. So maybe it was just a racing incident? Opinions between the two riders involved were complete opposites.

Rea’s first no score of the year happened as the KRT riders went around the third lap of race two. Rea passed inside Sykes into one of Brno’s long chicanes. They crossed paths and as Rea cut back and Sykes went for his ideal line, some part of Rea’s bike and Sykes’s bike hit and down went he new all-time race win record holder.

The simmering tensions between the two top riders of the past few years for Kawasaki are usually under control, by constant management from their shared team at least, but the lid was off the verbal powder keg at Brno.

Sykes, first to greet a small forest of media microphones some time after a race in which neither KRT rider scored even a point, said of the incident, “It looks like there are people making a big deal out of this but the long and short is that he made an uncalculated pass, ran wide and obviously I focused on my exit up the hill.

“He obviously looked to cut it back, he was off the line, and he tried to cut it back onto the racing line and I was there so… People can say what they want but there was nothing to it, just a racing incident.

“For example, there was no action taken. I was speaking to race direction, because clearly somebody has complained, but you can see when he passes me into the right, he goes in there too fast and my bike never changes angle. There are a couple of bumps and you see the camera moving but it never changes the degree. It is a nice linear pick up.

“If there was anything like that you would see it on the camera anyway. The fact is he made a mistake. If I pass somebody on the inside and run wide, when I cut the bike back, you have always got to check. In the early laps there is no gaps.

“So, two things I do. Check to see if the racing line is clear, as it is you who has made the mistake, and second of all, if you want to give it full gas, stay half a metre off the racing line and you will have no problem. I think it was just obviously a miscalculation on his behalf but I am the one being blamed. It is certainly not my fault.”

Sykes felt that somebody from inside the team complained to race direction. He stated, “This is what it looks like because you could see that there was no action taken, on the screen I was informed.”

A spokesman later confirmed to the media that the team manager had not made a complaint, which is the only official way to make a complaint in situations of this nature.

When asked if it was not much cleverer to handle this internally Sykes said, “let’s just say that there are different motivations from different people inside this team. Like I said, it was a mistake on his behalf but they are looking to blame me. Like I say, I dunno what has gone on. But I was taken to race control and they said that Jonathan had already given his side of the story, and I saw from his reactions at the side of the track, so maybe it was him who was doing the complaining.”

Rea had a very different view of the incident.

“Maybe my only mistake today was not to be aggressive in the beginning and to take every margin that opened and put myself in a better position,” said Rea. “I had no bike problem, but I made an average start and all the guys in front were kind of in a rhythm that was like low two minutes. No urgency. But when I touched with Tom in the last corner, it was like, ‘OK, I pressed the button now.’

“I had to try and go and make my own race. Then the accident at turn 12 happened and that was it. I do not know what part touched, it happened so fast. He drove into the side of me, it is clear to see from his onboard footage that he completely hit the side of my bike and side of my body.

“My elbow, knee and the side of my bike. From the uphill facing camera is was hard to see because we were in a group, but from his onboard camera, you can very clearly see that he rode straight into the side of me. It was a side contact.”

Rea was asked if he understood why there was no action from race direction, and he said: “Yeah, of course. If you understand the championship, you understand everything in the championship. You are clever. It is unfortunate for me in the points situation, but it is how it is. I put my points across to them and they gave me their opinion as well, which was quite balanced to understand, but to me it is clear what happened.

“The only thing I can’t understand is what was in Tom’s brain in that moment of madness. I can’t understand this guy that when every other rider in the paddock passes, him, he cannot fight with other riders. He goes in the race when there is a fight to be had, he is going backwards. But when it is me, he is attacking straight back at the next corner.

“It has been clear all weekend that we had a much better pace. I can only talk about if I was in his position, how I would manage that situation. But from my point of view I am completely flabbergasted that the accident happened. I completely destroyed the exit of my corner to show Tom a wheel. To show him I was there and trying to come through and make my race and go forward in the race.

“I opened up the line and where he had a chance to square off the corner and out-drag me to the straight, it seemed like the best solution for him was to ride into the side of me and take me down. I just cannot understand what was in his brain at that moment.

“Clever people understand what has happened. He had space to go more inside and square off the corner, like Laverty in front. It was very easy to see he was much wider than Laverty. Intention was clear. I just do not understand why it was in his brain to not give me room when I was already through.

“I cannot accept the blame put on me, it is ludicrous. I went down when there was contact. That happens in racing but it looks like I am not going to get an apology either.”

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