After a breathtakingly dramatic first WorldSBK race at Imola the story of stories was not the breakdown from poleman Chaz Davies or potential podium man Tom Sykes.
It was that finally that the red wall of Ducati and Alvaro Bautista dominance was cracked open more than enough to allow Jonathan Rea and his official KRT machine to take a first win that at times must have seemed impossibly distant.
Bautista had, after all, won every single race so far – and very convincingly - even at track that looked good for Rea or another from the outset.
But at Imola the culmination of all Rea’s experience and Kawasaki setup knowledge – and no big straights to speak of – saw first-time Imola racer Bautista have to settle for second, and Rea win for the first time in 12 races.
Rea has said from the start of the year that he and his bike are both working well, but have had no answer for Bautista and the new hyper-revving and race-focused Ducati. But now progress had paid at the most old-school WorldSBK track there is.
“We made a step forward from last year,” Rea told bikesportnews.com. “Of course, with the new bike and new rivals in the championship the reference is different, so we have to improve.
“Sometimes you can reward the team and yourself with a victory and it has not been happening so this is a little consolation for everyone that is working hard.”
How it was done can run to several pages – including using a completely new rear Pirelli rear tyre that neither Pole man Davies or Bautista used - but do not discount the simple motivation to need to win. Rea and his crew being primed and ready for such a result at one of Rea’s best circuits.
“Honestly I have been joking all weekend with my mechanics about this story,” said Rea. “I will not tell you exactly what we said. This was a big motivation and good for the championship. And for me, and my mentality.
“It is very difficult to win for – not four seasons because I feel in 2016 Chaz was the same or stronger - but certainly last season I was so dominant. When a new guy comes with a new bike and beats you, and not just beats you, really beats you every weekend, it is difficult.
You start to look in the mirror. Since Assen I convinced myself that I was going to win. All week, in the gym, in training I was just visualizing winning in Imola. We did it - today.
“We need to take our moments. Imola was a perfect situation. Alvaro has not been here, it is clear his level is really high, but this was a track for us, for me and Kawasaki, and we maximised it. So the key to my season is that when I can win – win! And if I can’t I will do the best I can. The season is long. For my own sanity I have to keep my belief and focus and let’s see.”
Once again Rea was asked why he has found the Ducati and Bautista combination such a hard red roof tile to crack, and he explained it in simple terms.
“The bike has so much acceleration and top speed,” said Rea. “The best example I can give you is in Thailand. When exiting turn one and turn three I get better traction, better drive and as soon as I touch the next gear the bike takes 30 metres before the next corner. So you can’t compete.
In this track where there are undulations, a lot of wheelie, and very stop and go, our bike and the rider can make the difference. We have experience here and a good setup. That was key today, I feel, with two Kawasakis on the podium thanks to Toprak Razgatlioglu, it was a good day for us.
“It shows that on the correct day and in the correct moment, with the right circumstances, we can still win races and be competitive.”
Rea was also asked to comment on reports that Kawasaki will not build any kind of V4 rev-monster to counteract the Ducati in 2019, by saying: “I will ride what they give me. I am very lucky to have a factory ride. But I hope they do something, we need to, now there is a new reference with - let’s say - a racing special in the championship now. I think we need to react as Kawasaki but let’s wait and see.”