Imola WorldSBK: Rea becomes GOAT-in-waiting with 59 wins

Picture: GeeBee Images

With four WorldSBK Championships under his belt, Carl Fogarty is still the best-ever WorldSBK rider – just ask Jonathan Rea – but in equalling his record total of 59 career race wins with a double at Imola, Rea has achieved a momentous career milestone.

“To be honest, I had confidence inside that this could be done this season, but nobody can talk about equalling Fogarty until you win four championships,” said Rea about equalling and possibly surpassing his fellow Briton for wins. And then taking four championships later on.

“He is the greatest of all time and – it is a long year to even think about that target – but it is nice to at least equal one of his records. It would be nice to beat that wins record at Donington but I am focused on the big goal. It would be so nice to surpass that, probably not for him.”

In race two itself, which Rea had said would be probably too difficult to win from ninth place with a fast Chaz Davies on the race two pole, Rea was imperious. He stuck on some tough and close passes, and piled his way past all the best riders one-by-one, to win by over four seconds. His had passes were a consequence of the reverse grid rules, which have ensured that this was his first race two win of the season so far.

“Eventually I was able to stick in some passes albeit very close and aggressive ones. But that kind of race encourages that kind of riding and I wasted no time. So when I arrived with Chaz he was not too far. I was panicking at the beginning of the race that if it was more than three seconds of a gap… but I think I arrived with only one point something.

“I could see he was having a lot of trouble stopping the bike and making a lot of mistakes entering the corner too fast and messing up on the exits. I was able to actually relax and hit my marks a bit. This was probably the best race win of the season, because coming from ninth it is so difficult.”

Rea found a better bike set-up for race two, after some last minute prep in morning warm-up. Other distractions took their toll more than how his bike was running. “Physically, out there it was not so bad. It was very hot and I got a lot of bugs on my visor as well, so it was quite difficult to see in some areas. I pulled one tear-off quite quickly and had to leave the second one on in case I got a big one!

“Aside from that the race was quite good. We made a change to the bike overnight to give me a bit more stability to the front of the bike just to give me more stability at the beginning of the brakes, to take out some speed.

“I was putting the front in crisis a little bit yesterday by arriving too fast and not being able to slow down. The change was perfect and we back-to-backed it in morning warm up with the spring change and I was confident to go into the race with that set-up.”

Rea left Imola with a 47 second points lead over Davies, and five wins from ten races.

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