Misano WorldSBK: Frustrated Rea - ‘pace wasn’t good enough’

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images

After no WorldSBK race wins on Saturday or in the Superpole Race on Sunday KTR’s Jonathan Rea was finally pushed into fourth place in Misano’s final action, giving him a two-three-four range of finishes.

He lost more ground in the championship to Alvaro Bautista as a result, and is now 36 points behind the championship leader.

After the intensity of Sunday’s clashes Rea could not initially remember much about the Superpole race, but got there in the end.

“Honestly, I struggle to remember the Superpole Race,” Rea admitted, before moving on to say, “I felt in the beginning it was okay, but as soon as the pace stepped up, I couldn’t really go with Toprak. He was on it. Really good rhythm.

“With Alvaro, I was okay, but then as soon as he got clear track, he was gone. I felt like I was getting the maximum from the bike, but it wasn’t enough. So, I was getting frustrated because they were just going away. So, I was going away from the guys behind me, so third was the position.”

Race two was clearer in Rea’s mind but also more complicated and certainly less rewarding in fourth place. “In the long race, I didn’t make a great start. I was like fourth in T1 and then I got track position behind Toprak and Bautista. I had a grandstand view of them going at it in T14. That was aggressive! I just settled into my rhythm. I thought it was okay. I was really struggling with my entering the corner. A little sliding and then that was closing the front, the chatter. I just didn’t feel comfortable. I just had a pace that wasn’t good enough. Struggled with grip.”

The Northern Irishman felt there were actually maybe too many tyre options to choose from this weekend, including the SCQ that the Honda riders opted to use in the Superpole race. “The Pirelli curve ball this weekend with the amount of tyres we tested, I think caught us out a little bit,” he confessed. “So many different variations on the grid between races.

“If I was to come and do the weekend again, I probably would have given more time to the standard SCX option, tried to understand how that would go. But, no regrets.

“It was what it was. Two-three-four for the weekend and go out of here in one piece with some points. I think we maximised what we could do. When I raced with Alvaro out there, I didn’t feel I had anything for him, to be honest. He was on a different level here. We’ll see what happens in Donington.”

A relative lack of time on track at the right time of day was an issue Rea also discussed. “With the Superbike timetable now it’s so difficult because you have Friday which is 10:30 and 3:00. So, FP2 is the best reference. But on Friday the temperature was so low, so cold. So, if we compare yesterday, we had a practice session at 09:00 in the morning, a Superpole, and then a race. So, we weren’t the best prepared. I think if Friday was hotter we might have got some more valuable information, but that wasn’t the case.”

Asked whether it was the temperature change or the tyre choice that was most at play Rea answered, “I think we just needed more time to understand the tyre options that Pirelli brought.

“It’s frustrating when Pirelli bring these options to a private test and the Ducati guys were well-prepared with what they knew. We came in blind with three options for a race tyre.

“It’s tough to understand when all the tyres have a good performance what the best one is for each bike. I raced the A option and the B option, but we didn’t race the SCX standard version this weekend, that Yamaha used in race two. So, some question marks also for us. How would our bike work with the SCX? Maybe it would improve? Maybe it wouldn’t? Still we need to learn a little bit about that.

“Hopefully in the future we can not have so many options. I thought they sort of agreed that for equal reasons we were going to cut down on the tyre options and try to make it more green, but we had five options for rear slicks here. It’s strange.”

Besides the top speed advantage, what else did Rea think gave Bautista the advantage? “I think they had two days of testing here, so already they came with a good rhythm in good conditions,” he stated. “I remember from 2019 he was super-fast here. So, credit to Alvaro. He did a really good job, and Ducati. We can see with Bassani fourth yesterday, two Ducatis on the podium again today, the bike is working good here.

“We can’t forget. We can’t go from an incredible weekend in Estoril where my bike and package was the best to being shit here - it’s not that case! This is how it is. We struggled this weekend a little bit, but I fully expect in Donington we can make a step again and be back in the front.”

Picture: GeeBee Images
Picture: GeeBee Images