WorldSBK Catalunya: Long corner edge and drive grip still Redding’s problem

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images

Ducati’s Scott Redding did not have an ideal start from the third row of the grid in WorldSBK race one at Catalunya, but he made up time and places quickly, in a chase of the fleeing eventual winner Jonathan Rea.

The bad starting position was not his main issue, it is similar long corner drive and edge grip issues in just a few places, just like the ones that cost him points in Motorland.

“The grid position for the race was not bad and I got a very good start, and was very demanding into the first corner,” said Redding, speaking at the track.

“Van der Mark was a bit over aggressive and parted a way for me, I was grateful for that. I found myself in a good position and I felt I could pass Rinaldi, and did so, to try and close the gap to Johnny.

Then I almost highsided in turn three, where we have been struggling all the time. So he came past me again and he tapped the seat… I thought, ‘Well, let me see,’ because I know he is faster than me in sector two where I struggled a little bit.

“I learned a little bit and saw Rinaldi’s tyre drop, then I tried to go again. I think I was closing to Johnny a little bit, and then it was out, then in, then out again. But when you have 1.5 seconds to catch on someone like that it is very difficult.

“I tried anyway… After qualifying this was a good race for me. I felt quite good on the bike and if I had started on the front row there was potential that I could battle with Johnny. We have to see for the next two races.”

Talk of the championship fight in general and any thoughts of a change in his own approach to reel back in Rea’s growing lead is not something he can imagine.

“I am doing everything I can possibly do. It is a difficult thing to close. When you give him an advantage he is comfortable. I needed to win this race. I did shit in qualifying, whether it is due to tyre or set-up I don’t know but starting seventh is not the ideal way.

“I did a great job to come back but unfortunately the person in front of me was Johnny. I can’t lose my focus because there are still many races to go and I just need to take every race as it comes.

“With the bike we do struggle in some corners, which is giving too much of an advantage to them, like in Aragon. All I can do is try to catch them in other parts but it is very difficult because they are also on the limit.”

Redding was amused and a little bit annoyed when Rinaldi tapped his seat and signalled him to slot in behind in their early joint pursuit of Rea. “I did smile,” laughed Redding.

I thought, ‘Fucking hell, cheeky bastard…’ But I could see where he was coming from; he was a bit faster than me. Not a lot. But he had the SCX tyre, so I thought I would use him to close the gap to Johnny.

“He is a bit faster than me in some sector, but then slowing me in the sector I was faster. So, I stayed there, learned a little bit tried not to abuse the tyre and when he slowed up a little bit, I just went.

“We kind of, say, worked a bit together – although we did not speak before – if he had told me to stay behind and I think he has the pace, then we will see what he has got for a couple of laps. But if you show me the seat and you ain’t doing nothing, I am coming back through. It was OK.

“I had to show him the seat because I did not want him to pass me in the straight because I knew I was faster on three sectors compared to his one sector, but I had already put a gap to him and I could go then.”

The long corner issue that hindered Redding even in his best races at Motorland Aragon is still the main thing plaguing his results against Rea.

“Yes, that is why we lose everything in sector two. Normally in sector one we are really fast, then we lose in sector two we lose everything, sector three not bad, then in sector four we lose again. It is all on the long corner. We are not driving, that is problem.

“I don’t know if the showed on TV the moment I had but I am on a knife edge and trying, trying. Then uuuuUUP! and it’s gone. I am no that every lap. The problem is when the tyre is good I can’t abuse it in the beginning, because I am going to be done for later.

“To be honest I pushed a bit too much because in the last two laps, the tyre was done. But I think I managed it quite well, it was a little bit better than we had in the practice and the qualifying. So I think we found something. The problem was just starting where I did let Johnny get away a little bit.”

Edge grip (on full lean) or drive grip (the ability of the rear tyre to find traction and not slide under power while leaned over) were both compromised in that one area for Scott.

It is edge and drive. When we can get the bike up and out the corner, we are quite good, and that is why we are good in sector one and three – not so much on the edge. But in those long corners where you have to stay on the edge, the Kawasaki is very good there.

“We have stronger points but when you have two corners back to back, it is difficult to recover it, because they make double the advantage. Then if you push again too much you are going to destroy the tyre. You have to balance out the situation whilst in a difficult situation.

“Which is not always easy, but I think if I started on the front row we definitely could have done something with Johnny. Especially in the beginning and middle of the race. Later on we would need to see, but I just used too much tyre to close the gap, because I was coming back.”

Redding is, of course, facing the statistically greatest of all time in this class, as well as his bike which is clearly a well rounded and potent package. For Redding it is more bike than man, it seems.

“You could say it is Johnny with his experience, but you could say Kawasaki always when they have grip they are strong. Same as the Yamaha. In a bit cooler conditions or when there is a lot of time on the edge, they are quite strong. It is a characteristic of the bike, especially when the tyres are new. When the tyre is used, we all balance out quite similar.

“They just have initial more grip in the beginning which is why Johnny’s strategy is always to go away in the first five or six laps. If I can go with him them we will battle through the race. It is very rare that we are together in the beginning and he is going later. But that is the strong point of their bike, and the strong point of him, and he uses that to his advantage.

“That is what we all do. Today I was quite surprised because I was quite fast in the beginning, and I just had to come through from too far back. It will be interesting tomorrow if I get a good start in the Superpole race and finish on the front row to then tsry to fight for race two.”