For the first time since Buriram in 2015, Jonathan Rea is not leading the WorldSBK championship but despite losing over a 1000rpm from the top end of his factory Kawasaki, and even after an imperfect pit stop under the tyre-inspired two-part second race of the PI weekend, the champion almost won yet again at Phillip Island and went on to say that mandatory pitstop could further liven up the series…
The Castletown man was quite happy with the pit-stop idea in race two but would have been equally happy with a straight 22-lap race. But his strategy in his pitstop was compromised when he forgot to unset his pitlane limiter on the exit from pitlane. It had an effect right away.
“When I came round out of pitlane already Chaz, Tom and Alex were there and I found myself in sixth or seventh,” said Rea, who would eventually only lose out by 0.021 seconds to Marco Melandri. “I gave myself a lot of work to do in race two. We made some steps in the right direction with the bike but it was still not how I wanted. I am sure if we came back to PI tomorrow we would have a different strategy with the set-up of the bike.”
Rea even went as far as saying the pitstop may be a good idea per se. “I made a mistake and it did not work out for us but I did enjoy that pit stop feeling. Maybe this is something we can actually implement for sure in the races and I am sure it was also exciting on TV,” said Rea, pointing to something that has already been discussed by the powers that be as another way forward for WorldSBK.
“The fans here seemed to enjoy it and the racing was close right to the end. It is always a classic Phillip Island race when you get a lot of bikes together - and I must say really good job from Fores. While I could not lead the race because we did not have the legs on the straight, he could lead the race and do a really constant pace. Very impressive.”
Rea had been in the wars before Phillip Island, getting ill just as race weekend started, suffering a mega-highside and then another smaller crash in testing – and damaging his right ring finger in a training accident two weeks before the race. He did not mention the word motocross as the cause of the finger problem.
“I fractured the top of the bone a little bit but I ruptured this tendon and pretty much took a big gash out of my finger it looked horrible. It was a silly training accident,” said Rea.
He leaves PI without the championship lead, which is a strange feeling for him after all his recent success there.