Reigning and five-time WorldSBK king Jonathan Rea has heaped serious praise on new team-mate Alex Lowes after his victory at Phillip Island, saying the Briton has made serious progress in a short space of time.
Lowes bagged the race-two win down under after having little in the way of dry testing before the first round and even caused Rea to look at his riding in some areas to find some extra speed - but there are no team orders just yet.
“I am happy for Alex. It is always good that your team-mate is fast because you develop the bike together. When he jumped on the bike it was my setup and even during this weekend I suggesting to him a riding position,” Rea told bikesportnews.com.
“We’re working really closely together and while I’m happy for him this weekend I want to win! I am happy for him to enjoy this moment but also happy to go to the next round and try to reverse the order. But it’s great for the team because we need that competition].
When you have a fast teammate the data is relevant. When I am having a tough day it is easy to look on the other side and see what he is doing. For example in the last split he was doing something really good in morning warm up and I was able to learn something from that, a little bit.
“I am sure it is likewise the same. All throughout testing he has been adapting to how I understand the Kawasaki needs to ride and he is doing a really good job.”
Rea had thoughts of home on his mind before he lined up to race and win the ten-lap WorldSBK Superpole race at Phillip Island, even if the Aussie venue is something of a second home for Rea.
His wife Tatia (Tarsh) hails from Phillip Island and the Reas have an Australian property they try to spend as much time as possible at despite relocating to Jonathan’s native Northern Ireland from the Isle of Man recently.
Rea was informed of the loss of his grandmother during race weekend at Phillip Island, making his Sprint race win on Sunday morning something of a must do, as his comments explained.
“It meant a lot to win the Superpole race,” said Rea. “I had a phone call on Sunday morning, just as I entered the track to tell me that my nana died last night, my mum’s mum. She’d been sick for a while. I dedicated my race win in Qatar to her, but she’s at peace now.
“I was shedding some tears and I really wanted to win that Superpole race, for my family, really.”
Rea was almost the race two winner as well, but had to give best to his fast new team-mate, Alex Lowes. “It would have been nice to win race two but when Alex came past I had lost too much time in T1. I did not get the last lap that I wanted. I got close at the exit of T6, and I would have loved to get a run up the back section.
But he did an awesome job and massive kudos to him, working slowly throughout the weekend and made a step when we arrived here. I feel great with the bike, I feel physically very good, so there is a lot of racing left.”
Ever the professional, with five championships and a book of record breaking achievements bursting at the seams, Rea gave his analysis of the first weekend of the new year, even before finding out that the next trace in Qatar would be postponed due to Corona virus concerns. And with all the race finishes so close at PI, there could of course have been different podiums all round. The ‘Phillip Island’ effect, he called it.
“You can never draw any conclusions from this but it has been a great weekend,” said Rea. “Even yesterday I was cheering on Alex from the Clinica Mobile. But you never knew who was going to win.
” think after the testing on Tuesday everyone would have been running to the betting shop to bet on van der Mark and he didn’t even get a podium. I think that shows how unpredictable he racing is, the strategy is.”