After putting his name at the top of Friday’s WorldSBK timesheets in wet and dry, Scott Redding was second behind record breaker Tom Sykes in Superpole, and followed that up with third in race one.
That would be Race One at Phillip Island and race number one in the series for Redding in general. Not bad, even if he is a former GP rider, reigning BSB champion on a Ducati and is some way into his Pirelli learning curve.
But all were still impressed with him coming to within 0.041 seconds of a win first time out. And there should definitely be more to come as he gets his head around it all, and puts real racing kilometres under his wheels.
“This was the first race we have done with other guys battling and understanding,” Redding told bikesportnews.com. “And we were not even a stone’s throw away from the win.
“I cannot be disappointed. I wanted the win, I was planning for a win - I set the whole race up for the win. But I did not get the win.
“I had great fun out there and I had a second back-up strategy. When I passed Alex into T4, I knew I could pass the Yamahas to the finish line, because I knew I was so much faster around the last corner but as I turned into six Alex was there and that unsettled me.
“He did not mess my rhythm but then there were three guys to pass before the finish line. He was touching with van der Mark so it left me less than four metres from the outside of the track, so I could not get the run. But I am happy - front row and a podium.”
It seems that – maybe simply because of Redding’s nature-given tall and wide frame – there was an effect on the sheer top speed and corner exit push of the Ducati in 2020, compared to the lightweight Bautista runaway job in 2019.
“A lot of people forget that Alvaro is 30kg less than me,” said Redding. “Go to the gym and pick up a 30kg dumbbell. That is a lot of weight and it makes a difference. That is why he is so fast with the Honda in the straight. He gained two tenths in the straight compared to me.
I do not have the advantage that Alvaro had last year. He had a nice advantage where he could make a gap in the straight, take it more or less easy in the corners and he knows he is strong. I am equal in the straight, which is good for me because normally I am at a disadvantage - but I don’t have that advantage that Alvaro had last year.
“That is why for him winning races was a lot easier, because they cannot pass him in the straight and he will always pass them on the straight. So, you saw it - it is quite an even, fair game for me to battle with them. I am happy with that.”
Redding had some idea what his first ever WorldSBK race would be like, but some things outside of his control were not as he had imagined. “Jonathan not being there was a bit of a surprise because there was a bit of action in turn nine, but I was just sitting there waiting,” said Redding.
“I was like a wolf getting ready to go. Getting ready to go, learn, not use my tyre, see what the guys behind were doing. I was waiting for four laps but just wanted to go, not go, go. I really wanted to go.
“And when I did go I saw that I could not put a gap into the guys and I saw that I was using tyre that I did not need to use. So I went wide in turn four, let the guys through and thought, ‘OK, now I have to battle for it’.
“For me I prefer to battle than stay in front all the time. So with I went wide, let them by, and thought ‘OK, we have eight laps to go, let the best man win’ and that was Toprak today.”
The highly-experienced Redding has been playing it cool but still being his usual pithy and quotable self in many, many ways, since he came to WorldSBK. But he is not immune to the same nerves as others.
You can imagine how maybe nervous I was, coming from nothing in MotoGP, to BSB and now all the expectation to winning World Superbike.
“I was nervous on the grid for sure – but in a positive way. At first I thought ‘For sure, don’t fuck the start’ and it was the only good start I made this weekend, and the guys are not going to kick my arse when I come in.
“That was good! The when I stared to ride I felt comfortable. In the beginning I was a bit nervous. I did not know how it was going to pan out, how these guys are going to ride, how aggressive they are. For the tyres, we have a sprint race tomorrow, and just maybe have to look at the setting for the final race.”