WorldSBK San Juan: ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’ - Redding

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images Ducati’s Scott Redding stopped playing safe at San Juan on Sunday and the result was a classic WorldSBK contest.

The weekend in Argentina, the first long haul for almost two seasons, was supposed to be all about the championship fight between Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea. In many ways it was but the winner of Race Two was a rider who had just ruled himself out of the championship battle after a fall and then a ninth place in Race One.

Redding, Rea, Razgatlioglu and the upstart Axel Bassani, went at Sunday’s climax with a commitment that once again drifted into a contact sport at times, with everyone involved having things to prove. To themselves, as much as anybody else.

Seemingly a rider who is always a rider, who is always either up or down in his results, Redding was the man who scored the win to add to his Superpole success on Saturday.

Of the four-way scrap and then finally his race win, Redding alluded to all the fighting talk between the riders that went on at Portimao last time out. “I said if they wanted to see this side, I’ll also ride aggressive. That’s what I did this weekend. I put my name on the map for not being the safety rider anymore because it doesn’t bring anything. So, if you can’t beat them, join them. That’s what I did and I managed to beat them as well. It was a good day for me.”

Even his showing in the Superpole race made him happy enough, his second place coming in a format he is not the biggest fan of.

“The Superpole race was also really good because normally that’s not our strong point and I was really fast,” he acknowledged. “I went for a move that I didn’t really think was possible. I did what I think Toprak does. Go for it whether I think I will make it or not. He was ready for the cut back, but it was okay. I showed already that I will try. This was the first step.

“Race two was the second step. I will try and I will try again and I will try again. I can’t wait to watch the race back, honestly. I don’t remember anything that happened. Honestly, I don’t remember anything! It was Bassani, Johnny, Toprak, and then me. I didn’t even know what was going on. It looked really good from my point. Then I got to the front and I was feeling Toprak putting the move on the inside. I braked too late. Go back again. Seemed to be doing that also this morning in the Superpole race. Ran off track, give him eight-tenths, come back… But I’m pushing. I’m pushing on my limit to win races. So, in general, I’m happy to come away with a win here, first time in San Juan.”

Redding had his highs on Sunday but his low on Saturday.
“Yesterday was yesterday,” he said. “It wasn’t my fault. I know that. I still showed I was strong. I showed heart. I showed determination to come back through the pack. When you crash, you think, ‘I’ve lost the second or the first in the championship’ and it deflates you, but that’s when you have to get up and you have to keep trying and keep pushing, pushing, pushing. Okay, I arrived ninth. Today I was second, then I won the race. So, I’m happy with all my performance through all the weekend.

“Two crashes, but I finished with a win, showed that I was strong, and next we go to Indonesia where it’s a level playing field for me, because here is tough. I had to play catch-up all weekend. We showed at the end that I was very strong. But, in Indonesia we all get to play again.

“There aren’t even any onboard laps you can watch. Get there, run the track, walk the track, visualise, get out, many laps. FP1 I think I did 24 laps, maybe 10 laps more than anyone else here. Race one when I crashed; they were all valuable laps. Yet, I don’t want to give them too many secrets, because I know the guys are going to be watching to see how I can learn tracks so well.”

When asked about how he sees the championship fight panning out now he has no chance of winning it, Redding said, “We have to see - they were battling pretty hard. I was like, ‘I’ve had enough of this, let me go’. I want to watch the race and see. It’s hard because Jonathan can’t afford to make the mistake, then he’s out. So, it’s a little bit in favour of Toprak.

“So, we need to see at the new track how it pans out, if they have any strategies to try and take big chunks of points. But, it’s not my game to play anymore. I’m out for the win, and that’s what I try to do.”

That last round of the year in Indonesia is going to be his last as a Ducati rider, so how does he feel about it now it is almost upon him. “Yeah, it’s going to be sad, I’ll be honest.” He said. “We’ve really had some great seasons together. A lot of wins, a lot of podiums.

“Sometimes I get sad because it’s like we’re moving on when everything is going well, but it is what it is. The decision was made for a reason. We’ll stick by that. You never know what the future can hold. Like Alvaro has come back. Maybe a few years down the line I can come back as well. The bike has been good. The team has been amazing. I can’t take anything away from anyone within Ducati and the racing setting, because really they asked me to want to win races and that’s what I want.”

Redding stopped on the slow down lap to take the cheers of the fans and give away some of his kit, really getting off on the fan interaction after two such strange seasons as the ones everyone has gone through due to Covid-19.

“I loved every minute of it!” he said. “I could hear the roar. I could hear the people cheering. I’m losing my voice because I was screaming back at signs. I gave them boots. All weekend they’ve been saying, “Champion, number one, you have to win.” It’s great to have that vibe. And when you actually win the race, I’m thinking, I got to start to deliver this win. They keep saying that I’m number one. I’ve got to deliver it. So, it was great to do that, give it to the crowd. They’ve been amazing. It’s what this sport because that’s what makes the riders thrive.”

Picture: GeeBee Images
Picture: GeeBee Images