WorldSBK Most: ‘Like a game of chicken’ - Rea

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images

Most WorldSBK pole man Jonathan Rea is one of those rider for whom a non-podium day is noteworthy. He and Toprak Razgatlioglu looked set for a podium each, at least in the early laps, even if the following Alvaro Bautista was odds on favourite to catch and pass them on superior speed down the long-ish main straight.

Too much fight in the early laps? Maybe, but even if Kawasaki’s Rea was off podium it was not a disaster, and with a repeat of his recent front brake fade problem, he had reasons to be happy.

“The race was quite good, to be fair,” Rea acknowledged. “I had a good rhythm, good pace. I was fast. Not fast enough at the end when it counted.

“A little bit like Donington, I ran into some brake fade issues. The lever was coming right back to my fingers and I couldn’t keep the pressure.

“So, stopping the bike was a problem, but also putting the bike into position for the corners, because I couldn’t make that pressure. Just struggled. Then I felt - not unsafe - but in traffic I was worried about hitting somebody because if I braked on my normal brake point, the chances were I couldn’t stop the bike. So, just that, really.

“I think position is not reflecting our true potential this weekend. I felt like we were strong. Unfortunately, we were off the podium, but only two seconds from the race winner. It’s good and a bad thing when a fourth place you’re disappointed with, and you’re only two seconds off. But that’s the reality today. I hope to make some amends tomorrow.

“Clearly we need to get faster at the end of the race. Alvaro is setting his personal best with only a few laps to go. We’ve seen 31’s. So, that’s an incredible pace. Congrats to him and Ducati. He came past me so fast in the straight. I felt like I could do everything, ride on my limit to be there everywhere else, but just to arrive on the straight again and have to make it all up again for another 21 corners. So, it was a little bit frustrating, but that’s how it is.”

Rea thought that the early fight between Toprak and himself was not such a big deal for the final race outcome. It was more the slight but worrying arrival of spots of rain.

“I made one pass,” he said. “I felt like I had a better rhythm. Unfortunately, when I made the pass, the rain came, the heavier drops of rain. I didn’t want to be the guinea pig in the front to crash first. I feel like I had a lot to lose in the front. Then Alvaro and Scott were able to catch a lot because of this, but only this.

“I didn’t really feel we were fighting. When I went past him [Toprak], I felt like I had a much better rhythm. But then he stuffed me again at the apex of T1. Then you have to repeat again. The drops of rain were quite severe around that middle part of the race.”
It did not make a huge difference to the outright grip, as Rea acknowledged. “It’s always the same. If you keep going and keep heating the tyres, it’s good. But I got a little bit nervous, especially through this last area going down into turn 13 with the wall so close. I got really nervous there, so I throttled back a little bit.”

Having been a clear Superpole winner, by over 0.3 seconds from Razgatlioglu, some expected Rea to at least podium. He feels there needs to be improvement for Sunday, no matter what.

“Yeah, I hope so. Not that today was our only opportunity, but I think today the cards were in our favour with the low temperatures. The SC0 tyre, our bike can work well with that normally. It didn’t pay off. We struggled a little bit at the end. That’s how it is. I think tomorrow… we just have to see what happens tomorrow, but for sure there is scope to improve.”

The final epic lap between Rea and Redding was tense and exciting for all who watched it. Rea felt that, eventually, he had more to lose than Redding, so he eventually took action to make sure they did not properly collide. “For me, it was a last lap battle - he had nothing to lose,” said Rea. “I was on the inside of 17 and he came right across me. It was like a game of chicken. You know, the street racers, they play chicken with the cars and then at the last moment, it’s like who is going to back out first? He completely threw the bike on top of me. So, I thought, ‘if I don’t do something, we’re both going to crash. I have another rival like this as well, so sometimes you have to know when to fold your cards. Today I lost the podium. That’s how it is.”

Rea had tapped the rear tyre of Razgatlioglu with his own front early in the race, by pure accident. “I had a bit more speed and misjudged how slow he was,” explained Rea.

The six-time champion and his team are already taking steps to make sure that they have no repetition of their front brake issues from Saturday on the final days of racing in Most. “We’ve got another set of discs to try tomorrow,” explained Rea. “I think because this track, aside from corner one and six and ten, all the rest there’s not a lot of braking. Like 13 and 15 there’s not really, really super hard braking. By the time you get to 20, the brakes will cool down again, and this is the problem. We need to try and regulate the temperature a little bit more.”