Portimao WorldSBK: ‘We need power’ demands ‘demoralised’ Rea

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images

After Jonathan Rea’s amazing pole position performance he was unable to convert it into a race win in the opening WorldSBK contest at Portimao, which is one of his favourite circuits.

Speed is there but even over 14 laps, not 21, tyre life was not there in race one. Nor engine power like Bautista used to pass him twice like he was standing still.

“The pole lap was incredible,” Rea told bikesportnews.com on Saturday at Portimao. “When the bike had grip, I got everything out of the lap. Aside from a little slide in the last corner, it was perfect. Nice to get that. Of course, competing so fast. That battle in the front starting is everything.

“So, I actually got a good start, which I was happy with. First laps were okay. I went with a harder option rear tyre. It’s a different construction. That was always in the plan after a long run yesterday because I knew the last laps it would be potentially a little bit more competitive than the SC0 tyre.

“When the race changed to 14 laps, that changed the strategy a little bit. We weren’t sure to gamble with the zero, that we didn’t have a lot of info with. So we stuck to our guns and raced the harder option. In hindsight, I just missed that little bit of grip, especially in the middle part of the race when the first drop of the tyre came.

“It was like an off-set when the zero (SC0) drops and when the harder one drops. They both drop, but if you’re going faster with zero, it’s less of a drop. I made a couple small mistakes. Toprak just broke the tow a little bit. Then Alvaro was coming with a good pace.

“I couldn’t fight with him because he took so much time out of me in the sector four and the beginning of sector one that I was riding on my limit just to keep the gap there. So, frustrated for sure with myself. We need to improve the bike, clearly, in some areas. Anti-traction being one that we can try and improve for tomorrow. But moreover, we need power. Riding there was really frustrating when Alvaro came past. You can do nothing.”

Bautista ran wide at one stage in Race One, but Rea knew any chance he was presented with was fleeting.

“Of course he ran wide and I got back through, but his rhythm was stronger. He was doing a better job at that time in the race, to be honest. Fair play. Great race from Toprak, as well. Round that last corner they just had a little bit more traction. Alvaro could turn inside me. I was doing everything I could to get up over that hill. That penalizes out going onto the straight today.”

Rea looks to be riding harder than Bautista, and even some others, just to try to hang onto him and at Portimao, Razgatlioglu too. He doesn’t seem to have enough to fight with in the second half of the races in particular, despite riding at 110 per cent.

“Yeah, it’s not enough right now,” he said. “It’s frustrating. It’s like I can make the difference when I have new tyres, but we need to improve. As soon as the tyre drops a little bit, I need the bike to work. That’s where we’re struggling the most right now.

“It was nice to get a Superpole win on Saturday. It’s kind of some consolation. But I would prefer the points for the championship, to be honest…. But, we need a big step on the engine side. To race with Alvaro, that’s what we need right now.”

When Bautista passed him in that opening race, onto the main straight and then disappeared away from Rea, Rea said how he felt about ti, as he shook his head, visibly to the TV Cameras. “It’s demoralising as a rider… It’s completely demoralising.”