Jonathan Rea had a near perfect end-of-season weekend, pole and all three race wins, even with Ducatis breathing down his exhaust pipe and a long, long straight to get pegged back on every lap.
Or almost every lap as Rea and his various bike set-ups took him to all three wins by making more ground up in the twisties than he lost on the straight.
Rea was stoked at his great season finish, but knows they only got there by even greater levels of planning and strategy/tactical changes than normal.
“We were in between tyre choices all weekend because it seems that the guys that do the work in the free practices understand and I am really happy that we were able to understand the package and be strong at the end when it counted,” Rea told bikesportnews.com.
He even changed his front tyre for the short race, not something many riders do willingly. “I went with the 417 in the Superpole race and then back to the 1071 front in race two. Just because I felt like the 1071 stayed more stable. I lost a little bit of initial grip and out and out performance, but I knew I did not need to ride at the same intensity because I knew at the end of the race I could be faster than the Ducatis.
That is what won the final race. With Alvaro I worked my ass off in sectors one-three just to stop getting passed down the start/finish straight. But I knew that to battle I had to really… with seven to go I put my head down especially in sector three to make no mistakes and put a good sector together do that it would not give him the opportunity. When he didn’t come past that one lap I put together a really good few sectors and I was able to eke out the gap.”
The pressure from both Ducatis behind was immense for a time in Race Two, and Rea knew that his 88th career win was maybe even a new kind of win, having lost at most other tracks that have such a vast straight early in the season. And there was no jump from 12th for Davies to make up in this long race.
“This one was special because Chaz and Alvaro were there from the start,” said JR. “It wasn’t like I went away like I did in the previous races. So to come out on top of both Ducatis in that situation is really satisfying. The Ducati was never in front of me coming out of the last corner, so it seemed the only place they could pass me was in a straight line.”
Wings, and how they may have affected Ducati’s overall bike performance this season, was a topic of conversation at Losail. Rea was asked about them after Race Two in Qatar. “With everything there is positives and negatives and I cannot imagine things sticking out of your bike… they have some positives but also I am sure there is negative effects, maybe in high winds or in agility.
“I have not done a lot of testing with wings so I do not really understand. It looks like in places, like in Portimao or coming out of the last corner at Phillip Island, it is pretty good. But for my bike to have wings we need a lot more power. Aerodynamically, if you have wings there is a lot more drag and we do not have the power to push through that.”