Scott Redding was back in the mix on Sunday at Magny-Cours after conditions proved conducive to his Aruba Ducati in WorldSBK race two.
On Saturday Redding explained why he knew that in the prevailing weather conditions he and his Panigale would struggle for the best results, and that proved to be the case. In a much reduced form, he said that unless the track is cool and his tyres can work on his bike as well as the tyres on some others, he is struggling. Or, at the opposite end of the range, if it so hot everybody’s tyres go a bit greasy then he can compete again.
The second of those scenarios came along on Sunday in France, and he duly took a podium behind the Razgatlioglu/Rea fight.
“I could do something, yeah,” he said of his 26th career podium and his 12th in 2021. “It was a bit hotter today than yesterday, I think. I’m not sure. I try not to look at the temperature. I don’t like seeing big numbers on the screen but I said to the guys, if I can start on the first two rows, that’s my first objective of this morning. I need to be on the first two rows. That’s why I was fighting like an animal out there to try and be there.
“I got some clear track at the end of the Superpole race and I had good pace. We couldn’t stop the bike, but I was making good laps. I said, ‘right. That might be it. I need a bike that stops a little bit better, just so I don’t make the mistakes, and I think I can go on the podium. That’s my goal’. So, they changed something on the bike and it was stopping. I went maybe one or two times a little bit deep in turn five. As of yesterday it was like 15 times I went deep. I spent more time wide than I did on the line!
“That gave me confidence to push a bit more because most of the track, in the beginning I thought, we could get a little bit of a battle towards the end here, but after a couple laps coming out of turn five, it was just… I could just feel them going. You guys must have been able to see it on the TV. We were good there, braking good, I made the line. I was like two-tenths. Worked again through all the chicane. Muscled the bike around. Get back onto them. Out of turn eight, same again. I managed to recover it a bit down into here (final section) in the braking, to recover.
“So I was on that recovery all the time. I wasn’t in a position where I was maintaining and just sussing out the situation. I was just like recover, recover, recover. Which getting the bike to stop and me being strong, I was able to manage that.
“After twelve laps, it started to take a bit of a toll on me because the tyres were dropping and I was sliding more, so I had to force it even more. So I was fatiguing and that workload was getting harder. I tried to just settle down a little bit but was just blowing out apexes. But third? I’m happy.
“That was my goal. If I can get on the podium today, it’s like a win for me in this situation, as bad as it was yesterday. I executed it perfectly. If we could have just had a little bit out of the slower corners, I think I could have battled a little bit with Jonathan towards the end. They weren't really a lot faster than me anyway, anywhere. I just couldn’t get out of the corners. It wasn’t like they were turning much better or they had better change of direction or better braking. It was just acceleration which there’s nothing I could do. I was playing with the maps. I was playing with my body. I was trying to prepare all the tricks I could do from myself, but it just isn’t enough when sometimes this is a strong point of the other manufacturers, getting out of the slow corners like Donington at Melbourne Loop, for example. So, I just did what I could and I’m happy with that, to be honest.”
There were some epic battles between Rea and Razgatlioglu and Redding had a grandstand seat for it all. He wanted more of it, to help his cause, of course.
“I thought, ‘no, come on a bit more. Now get stuck in there and have a battle!’” said Redding. “I expected Toprak to go more early, but they were battling quite a lot and I thought, ‘they’re going to slow each other up a little bit more’ but then when they got the rhythm, they just went a bit and then I started having a few moments. I thought, ‘the target was third. You’re in third. Don’t try and over-ride yourself now and put it down', because I had a couple of big slides. I thought, ‘settle with it’. But I had to push because the guys behind were kind of catching me a bit because I was struggling to keep apexes. That was all it wrote for this weekend.”