WorldSBK Indonesia: Rea reels from ‘career worst result’| Gordon Ritchie | WorldSBK
KRT’s Jonathan Rea was fighting an intestinal bug before he even started racing at Mandalika, but he also ended up fighting some riders he never expected to in any WorldSBK race. He even had to battle hard to keep his own teammate Alex Lowes at bay, with Rea a lowly ninth and Lowes tenth by Saturday’s flag.
Bautista and Razgatlioglu finishing up ahead is one thing, and Locatelli was a bona-fide factory rider on the Race One podium. But Bassani, Petrucci, Van der Mark, Vierge and Aegerter? In any normal time they would be Rea fodder all day and half the next day but it is not normal times for a Kawasaki team that is clearly not at its peak compared to previous years. Maybe they will come good soon, but up until Race One at Mandalika, it has been a kind of disaster.
“Seriously, when my bike is working well, it’s working very well,” said Rea, who came to see the media even though he was not one of the top six finishers. “When it has grip, everything is balanced and I can really make the difference. The problem when the front tyre is destroyed, you can’t make the difference. You can’t push the bike like you like. You’re more just balancing.
“It’s a balancing act to bring the bike home.
“So, we have to take some responsibility that we’re not getting the setup perfect right now, but I feel when everything’s good we’re still getting the best out of the bike.”
Rea was also penalised by three grid positions for slowing on the racing line just as Philipp Öttl and his GoEleven Ducati were on a fast lap. Rea didn’t see him, but should not have slowed in any case, and he put his hand up to take the blame, and accept his punishment.
“In Superpole I got a lap cancelled [a yellow flag he could do nothing about] and then of course the penalty for being in the way of Philipp Oettl, so I’m really sorry about that,” Rea admitted. “I was actually quite on it until that sector. Bassani disturbed me in the corners before and I just rolled out of the gas. As I was rolling out of the gas, I looked round and he was there. So, big apologies for that. No excuses, really.”
Rea started from the third row of the grid, not the second row that his best lap time promised him.
The Northern Irishman’s tyre choice of SC2 front and SCO was ‘Hobson’s choice’. No choice at all in the track and temperature conditions.
When told Bautista could use the SC1 front and SCX rear, Rea said, “I’m not heavy. I’m of average build, but even me, our bike makes performance in the braking area, trail braking, and we put so much energy through the front tyre because we lose out in other areas that it’s very easy to overheat and destroy the front. So, when there’s a harder option available that’s generally, especially in hot conditions, we’re forced to use that. Then the rear tyre, it’s been a very mixed bag because yesterday a lot of riders used the 800 [SCX development tyre]. Yesterday I used SC0 in the morning and then 800 in the afternoon. Not too bad. This morning [in FP3] we started with the 800 again and it destroyed itself within laps, like completely destroyed itself.
“I had riders come to my box worrying about safety, worrying about finishing the race, what we’re going to do. We need to do something.
“For me, the logic was to go back to the SC0, the harder tyre that was guaranteed to finish the race. A little bit slower than the 800, but I actually was quite impressed with the tyre linearity in the rear. It was quite linear. Just the front I really struggled with. So, just mixed bag really. But we were forced into those tyre decisions.”
One brave media soul asked Rea the question, ‘This must be one of the worst races since you were in Kawasaki?’ Apart from races he crashed or had other unforeseen problems in, of course.
Rea accepted the premise completely, “Yeah, 100 per cent. Potentially one of my worst results in my career, maybe. I can’t remember battling for top tens, even with Honda.” It was that bad of a first race day in Indonesia for Rea, who is looking for overnight improvements to get somewhere near his personal best again before the long spring break in the calendar begins.