Jonathan Rea and Imola have a special connection, like he also has with Assen and Portimao, and as even some of his rivals said, the biggest reason he won the only two WorldSBK races available was the rider himself.
At this track and least, and with all his and his team’s experience of Imola, it was enough to comprehensively stop the Bautista/Ducati juggernaut in its tracks. And at Ducati’s home track, no less.
Rea explained, as far anyone can, his part in the win, before moving on to other things. “I think it is just set-up and me, because we did not have anything new to try except for the rear tyre, which I think contributed to it a little bit because I could be more consistent at the end.
It is just a track where the rider can really make the difference. When the bike is floating under you, normally you would focus to fix that problem, but I understand this is a track trait. You have to cope with certain things.
“It was tough in Assen not winning there, because it has been a really strong track for us so for my own motivation, and for the championship - I needed to do a good weekend.
“So, I talked myself into it these last weeks and I am glad because I put a lot of pressure on myself that if I did not deliver my head could have dropped a little bit. So I am very pleased with our weekend.”
He knew that winning at Imola was more than just possible, it was necessary, saying…
This was our chance and we had to take it, which I did in both races.”
Rea’s double win would be perfect in any other year, but with three races this year, he was denied the chance to ride, which he seemed very keen on doing even in the wet, even though he demurred to get into that side of things.
“Unfortunately race three was cancelled due to the weather which came in,” he said. “It as really unfortunate to be cancelled on safety grounds. But I completely understand and I am sure we will get our chance again.”
The new thing for Rea that also helped him, and almost him alone, was a new rear tyre, the development ‘A” that he used to win the 19-lap opener
Pirelli brought the new rear tyre that works good on our bike. It is very consistent and I have a lot of confidence with it. It was a clear choice for me. But I think only me and not many others ran it.
“Maybe it only works good on my bike and not the others, but for me it was a real step forward in consistency. I tried it in pre-Superpole, before I put my qualifying tyre in and it was also quite good.
“I still went with the new ‘A’ rear that I used in race one. It was a no brainer for me really as I could be fast, the same fast, for ten laps.”
Rea knows that the next round at Jerez may not be as amenable as Imola was, but at least he leaves Ducati’s home circuit knowing that the red tide can be stemmed, at least occasionally.