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WorldSBK Jerez: Rea surprised by grip levels in race two

Maybe it’s a measure of how actually strong and stable the Jonathan Rea and KRT effort has been since he joined Kawasaki in 2015 that a weekend that comprised second in Superpole, second in race one, a win in the sprint race and then sixth in race two could be construed by most as a poor one.

Relatively speaking, there is a grain of truth in there. Rea extended his all time winning record to 90 victories at Jerez, but lost plenty of points to the seemingly truly dominant force on the weekend, Scott Redding. But beat him in a fair ten-lap Sunday morning fight.

He may have been in better shape than sixth in race two but for a lack of grip from the same rear tyre choice he made in race one, held in similarly wildly hot temperatures with just under or just over 60°C on the tarmac each time. In the cooler sprint, it was all Rea, and even Redding said he just got beat.


Said Rea on Sunday about the sprint, “This morning was very good and I felt that it was my chance to go from the very beginning. I did a 1’40.6 from a standing start, which was unbelievable. I had a really good rhythm so I was able to cruise the last few laps and really enjoy the race.”

With a sudden lack of rear traction that manifested itself early on in race two, it was a very different story. “I had huge grip problems from lap one,” he said just after the race. “I made a good start and coming round turn three the bike went completely sideways.

“I was running the harder tyre yesterday; it felt really good, it was pushing. Today I was expecting that with more rubber down it should be even better, but I considered that maybe it would be the first lap and it would take some cleaning and heat and it would come good, but it never came.

“It was the longest race I have had. I was defending my position quite a lot and that was not how I wanted to ride. We need to try to forget it because I felt really good his weekend with the bike and this track has not been the most kind to us in the past, both from my point of view and also the bike.

Yesterday and this morning we turned it around and the bike was working great, so I do not want this bad race to cloud our overall conclusion from the weekend. It was hard because as soon as I got the bike on its side in turn three and accelerated towards four, it was not pushing the tyre in and going forward. I was frustrated with that.

“This afternoon we had 59°C on the track and I think yesterday we had 60°C, so basically the same and we used pretty much the same bike – the set-up change was pretty minimal – and had the same tyre. It is frustrating because my overall race time was much slower today.

“I have not been back to the garage to look at the data but I think it is very obvious that the slip percentage will be huge today compared to yesterday and the conditions were exactly the same, the tyre code was exactly the same. But the feeling from the tyre was completely different, so we need to understand.”

When asked if he would have changed anything on his bike, or was something missing, Rea said, “If I had the race tomorrow I would put on a different tyre in. Same but new, and try again. I feel like we got the best out of our bike yesterday and this morning but today it was unfortunate.

If I can magically flick our fingers – and I am sure Alex would tell you the same – I would have 15 horsepower or more. In the straight, exiting the last corner especially and even in the short back straight were we only use five gears, the time we lose is enough.

Between all these corners there are accelerations and we are losing but our chassis is very good and last year proved that even without the fastest engine we could still have the best package over a season.”

Rea knew it was a tough round coming at Jerez when the heat was factored in, even without this late and rude surprise in race two. “This circuit is the one I feared the most, especially in the high temperatures, so it is not a bad outcome.”

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