The Saturday WorldSBK race at Misano in 2018 was fairly standard, for a Jonathan Rea win. That is, the win not really in doubt, when he starts off the front row at least.
He has had to work harder this year to get past some riders, given his reduced engine revs and imperfect gearing for all.
It was certainly a hard day’s work for Rea in the 29°C heat at a track with a wide range of corners. He is now 92 points ahead of his nearest championship challenger Chaz Davies but it was VDM and Melandri he scrapped with at the end of a race in which he scrapped a lot.
“A super-super hard race. I dunno where to start. We made a change to the bike today but it definitely wasn’t any better. We made a change in the front suspension and the balance to try and help turn the corner a little bit better, but I was putting the front tyre in crisis a lot,” Rea told bikesportnews.com.
“In turn four and five, I was really bad with a lot of angle. And turn 14 as well. As soon as I was releasing the brake, deep in the stroke, I was having a lot of moving. I had a few front slides there and also turn two. I had to be clever today and pick up points, and my track position was in front of Chaz. But in the end it was enough to get it done. I could see that Mikey was making the lap time in different areas to mine.”
Rea was convincing in his statement that he really had to ride as hard as he could in race two, because of the reverse grids and his Kawasaki’s engine RPM limit. “The race to win is the first race. Because it is a fair race,” said Rea. “Race two is a handicap race, and sometimes the chips can fall in your hand, or not. Today it happened and of course it is more rewarding to win race two.
“But it is rewarding to win this year. We have been handicapped enough with our bike. To win with these regulations is already satisfying. Race two – I get really nervous because other riders see it as their opportunity to win. That sometimes creates a lot of chaos and bad decisions during a race. It can catch you out, but luckily today I could get through.”
Rea knew he had been in a fight but gave as good as he got, having earlier mentioned that there were some aggressive passes put in by Davis and Melandri on their Ducatis. “No, not too aggressive. It was aggressive, but I was aggressive. For me it was the same. It was how it was. Nothing over the line. Somebody said there was a contact but I did not feel. You should trust guys. You trust them until you end up having a reason not to trust them.
“The hard thing is riding with Chaz because he makes massive lunges. I watched him on Melandri one time in the Quercia corner and he came from so far back I was thinking, “Is he even going to stop?’ But he does, he stops, and it is incredible how deep he can brake in the corner. I am not shy to make a pass but unfortunately we do not have that acceleration to make a pass at the end of straights now. So we have to be a little bit more imaginative.”
Being 92 points ahead at the summer break has exceeded Rea’s already high expectations. “I had a target but it was 75 points in my brain. We made that before Laguna, sat down with Fabien and Pere and said if we go into the summer break with 75 at least we can enjoy the summer break. 92? It is nicer to have it than not have it but anything can happen.”