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WorldSBK Estoril: ‘It’s what I had to do to get the race done’ - Rea

Jonathan Rea’s desire to win WorldSBK races was shown not just by being able to pass his two biggest rivals for both race victories on Sunday at Estoril, but by setting the fastest lap of the final race just one lap from the finale to catch his eventual prey, Alvaro Bautista.

Said Rea of that race win, when he block passed Bautista into the final chicane with a just a few corners to go, “The penultimate lap, I was quite strong. I was able to recover everything. Then going on to the last lap, I just got really good traction from the last corner. I used the slip stream for the first part of the straight. I said, ‘okay, just brake, don’t mess up.’

"The previous three laps Alvaro was missing the apex in one a little bit, so I was able just to stop, hoop the corner. Already by T3 I was right there. I thought, just focus on four, because he was braking early in T6, very early. When I seen how fast he was between four, five and into six, I thought, ‘no way’. But, I released the brake, used corner speed, and picked the bike up. Honestly, the traction I had was really good. I was able to drive close and thought, this is my first chance, and go. I had two or three opportunities. There, the chicane where eventually I passed, or also on the cutback in the last corner. I felt like I had enough edge grip that I could go inside, and just hold him up a little bit. But I felt that the earlier in the lap I could do it, the more I could gain in track time before the long straight. So, I tried T7. He cut back and I parked it in the apex in the chicane. Just stopped him a little bit from dropping on top of me. Then I did my line and tried to make a good exit. I thought I fucked it, to be honest.


"On the last corner, I had such a big slide! I thought, he’s going to do me. But I kept riding the slide, riding the slide, and then eventually I was able to get the job done.”

Rea’s latest win in a dazzling career was especially pleasing, as it was a hard one to stay in for so long. “Really nice when the last lap goes your way, but it was a great battle from the early laps with Toprak and then in the middle,” said Rea.

“At some point in the race I felt, I’m faster. Go to the front and just there. Go as slow as I can at the front for track position, conserve my tyre, conserve some energy. But I felt some urgency when Alvaro came past it’s like the race started again. His rhythm was strong. Then I just tried not to make any mistakes and tried not to feel urgency to pass. It worked out where I could be strong where he was strong. Stuck with my plan and it worked.”

Rea scored two, not one race, wins at Estoril on Sunday.
“The first one was a little bit of a gift, really,” admitted Rea, who had capitalised on a mistake from Razgatlioglu, followed by the front end save of the century.

“My race was almost over when Toprak came past me in T1. He rode me right into the wet area. I had to sort of release the brake and go along. That was enough just to lose almost a second, seven-tenths. We were quite similar race pace-wise. To catch that back up, I could see his pit board with three or four laps to go was .7, .7, .6, .5. So I was thinking, at least he knows I’m coming. But was happy second on the last lap. We’ve been pretty hard when he’s been strong. He just got really deep into the chicane. A lot of back brake. That took the weight off the front and he lost the front. I just kept my line and went inside, then came back over the top of him on the cutback.”

Rea and Razgatlioglu got very close at that point, bringing back memories of their  infamous Assen clash’n’crash. Rea was aware how close it was, after Razgatlioglu made the save of the century, then aimed for the apex.

“Very close,” said Rea. “It’s what I had to do to get the race done. I knew that the exit of the last corner, our bike was a little bit better than the Yamaha today. I knew he wasn’t going to be able to come past me before the line. So, I wanted to lead him to that last long right, and we did it. From that point, I just knew, no mistakes. It was good.”

Rea followed up a question with a statement of his own, saying, “To me, the biggest positive we can take from this race is there’s been this sort of myth that our bike only uses the SCX tyre in super hot conditions. That’s still sometimes a doubt in my brain, even today, like yesterday.

"With the way we’re using the tyre, I was thinking, ‘When is this tyre going to go off? I need to conserve the tyre, and we’ve five laps to go.’ I thought, ‘It is not, just keep going.’ We made my fastest lap in the penultimate lap. Big kudos to the team for working this direction in the winter with our chassis, with electronics. It’s still very, very early, so I don't want to have egg on my face when I’m positive about the bike, but it does feel good. It’s definitely a step better than last year, from that point of view. Looking forward to seeing what it can do in the heat of Misano.”

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