After playing his cards almost perfectly in a first race that was very definitely down the rabbit hole from the first intense lap, WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea managed to navigate the melees and often tough passes that characterised a crowd-pleasing Saturday at Magny-Cours, to get into the orbit of long time leader Michael van der Mark.
When the Dutch rider fell out of contention and finished an eventual 13th, Rea was looking strong for an important win. But Toprak Razgatlioglu capitalised on a Rea error and made a firm and final pass on Rea.
“I made a small mistake in sector two. With the gap on my pit board with a few laps to go, I was convinced that by keeping a good rhythm it would be OK, but that mistake gave Toprak the opportunity to make a manoeuvre in sector three,” Rea told bikesportnews.com.
“That is how it is. So if I try to look from the outside, from the championship point of view, it has been a strong race. But I am also a little bit disappointed because I did most of the work to put myself in a good position at the end, and we couldn’t finish the job.
We have got two more chances tomorrow. We need to improve the bike because I really did not feel good with the bike, it was not talking to me like normal and we will go now and speak with the guys and try to improve stopping into the fast corners, the changes of direction and chicanes.
“I just do not feel I can stop the bike enough there is a lot of pushing from the rear. I had a similar feeling this morning but we changed the setting, it was not quite right, so we just need to understand that and start again tomorrow.”
Rea had spoken about the passing manoeuvre from Razgatlioglu, and it was then put to him that there were quite a few ‘manoeuvres’ in the first race; but some were too much?
“Some was limit. I had a good view also of what was happening in front with other riders. But it was on the limit, but fun. But like we saw with Chaz and Toprak it only takes just that little bit more over the limit to cause a crash.
“I think we made this nice show because nobody was prepared and in the beginning nobody really understood how much to pus or not. There were still some wet patches, like in the exit of the 1980 corner (Turn 8) and also going through the next chicane. So the group was massive and I started getting nervous.
“When van der Mark went to the front I could see that he had better pace than Tom so I wanted to try to follow him to get away from the group but it was hard to get past Tom and then Toprak. But once I got the rhythm I focused on VDM and got the rhythm. He made a mistake and the rest is the last lap story.
I was pretty happy with my race because just to survive them ten laps, I am quite relieved. I struggled… sometimes when you are braking on the limit and you have the right of way, the inside, when somebody is on the outside, trying to squeeze to the inside. I cannot remember which rider but that is where I made one contact, because I had to release the brake, otherwise I was going to crash because they were cutting my line from the outside.
“I honestly can’t remember much because the first ten laps were… But if I stand back and look at the race we did a really good job. So we try to focus on that but inside I am smarting a little bit because I feel the victory was ours today after the hard work and working to be in the best position.
“The best position to be in races like this is in the front two places. If you are four or five; it is a mess. Especially getting to the apex where everybody is funnelling out it is very easy to make a mistake. So I always try to put myself second or third wheel.”