Reigning World Superbike Champion Jonathan Rea says he was lucky to get third in the opening race at Donington Park this afternoon after problems with gearbox false neutrals saw him run off track twice and drop precious seconds on leader Tom Sykes.
Rea suffered the issue twice yesterday and five times in today’s encounter as he took to the grass at Goddards but the Kawasaki man recovered and stayed ahead of Lorenzo Savadori to keep third and, amazingly, increase his championship lead as Chaz Davies crashed twice and failed to finish.
“We got lucky today. There were a few times when the problem occurred we were on the limit to stay on the bike so I was happy. Five times in the race when I shifted from second to first, I found neutral and it doesn’t matter how heavy-footed you are or aggressive, without a blip it wouldn’t go in,” Rea told bikesportnews.com at the track.
“We moved the lever a little further down so when I hit it it is closer to my foot for a more positive shift but with this bike you have to be positive. I feel like I am giving my foot a full workout to make the shifts. We will look at it again.
“It’s frustrating. I don’t know why. In the beginning when I first joined Kawasaki, I pointed this out but it was my technique that caused the problem as I didn’t take my foot all the way off the lever before I shifted down again. I got caught out too many time in this race. It’s a little worrying as when you brake on the limit and you don’t get the last shift with no engine brskling, the amount of stress you give the front tyre trying to stay on the track was a lot.
“The first couple of times we managed to get back with the front group again but when it happened again and again, I lost a bit of confidence as I was thinking why is this happening? So I took half a second off my laptime just to get it into gear and bring it home.”