Reigning WorldSBK king Jonathan Rea was denied a record-breaking double win at Aragon on Sunday by title rival Chaz Davies but some canny work on gearing meant he wasn’t left for dead on the long back straight as happened in 2017.
The Kawasaki man, whose ZX-10RR had its wings clipped by the new rev-regulations over the winter, was able to stay with the Ducati on corner exit and remain in the slipstream but it is gearing that now limits the scope of the green machine, not rpm.
And Rea believes the engine upgrades which are now allowed by concession points for his mob but not Ducati won’t maker a huge difference.
“To be honest we had first gear so good for the exit of turn 15 onto the straight, so it just depends. Sometimes I would get a small wheelie and lose the drive but when I got it perfect I could exit very similar to Ducati,” Rea told bikesportnews.com.
“Better than last year to be honest, because in 2017 I was getting killed off that corner. Last year I was in between gears, using second and first. We have to use a lot longer gearing now, with the regulations, and there was a lot of push off there. With Fores and Chaz I went in the slipstream, I could pull out but not go forward. The reality compared to last year, here in Aragon, is not a big disaster. I was getting killed a lot more in sector four last year than this year. The biggest factor right now is gearing and gearbox.”
Rea also spoke about the possibility of engine upgrades now, as post race calculations now allow Kawasaki to make one engine upgrade, like all the others except Ducati. Would it help Rea right now?
“I think we are quite close to the limit. It has been a long time since we have had some kind of upgrade. It is hard because in the past we have been working to push forward and try to improve the bike, and now we have been given a big penalty, so it is difficult to now work in this area.”
Pushing the chassis harder, while saving tyre, is the priority for KRT. “Right now the chassis, especially working with Showa, we are trying to define a bike that gives me a lot more confidence to release the brake and turn the corner,” said Rea.
“So we are focused a lot more on chassis balance and turning on the track, trying to maintain corner speed but also save the rear tyre. Like today, I think a lot of races are going to be won with tyre consumption and that is somewhere where we are going to improve a little bit.”