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WorldSBK Magny-Cours: Rea second, sets new Superpole record

KRT’s Jonathan Rea took a full commitment second place in the opening WorldSBK race, shortly after setting a new pole record at Magny-Cours.

Saturday provided a rollercoaster for Rea after he took a new record of eight Superpole wins in succession and also gave Kawasaki its 100th Superpole win all-in before losing his shared championship lead to Toprak Razgatlioglu.

Rea was tied on seven Superpole wins in succession with Ben Spies until he went out on his own in yet another all-time fashion in WorldSBK. He also heard afterwards that there was an interested party in his performance in Superpole, which he won by just 0.1 seconds from eventual race winner Razgatlioglu.


Rea said he didn’t know about the stats side of things. “I didn’t realise that eight Superpoles until I had seen it on the TV screen,” he said in the post race press conference. “Toprak told me that Ben Spies texted him this morning to tell him to pull his finger out! That’s pretty cool. I didn’t even have the stat in my head, but when it happened it was pretty cool. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll ever be known as Mr. Superpole after Tom and Troy Corser, but maybe if I have another three or four seasons I might get there. For Kawasaki, that’s great. Solid.”

Despite being beaten so soundly by Razgatlioglu that the Turkish rider had the chance to do a rolling stoppie across the finish line, Rea felt he had had as good a first day as he could have expected.

“It was a really good day at school for me because I learned a lot,” said the six-times champion. “I can get some good information back to the engineers in the box and hope they can do something with it.

“It’s clear we’re quite on the limit of the package. We’re asking a lot from the front of the bike, the stability, the front tyre. So, even when Toprak dropped, to be honest, I went into sort of experimentation mode where going into the T5 I wasn’t braking aggressive in the beginning, and then braking more towards the apex. It was slower, but I felt more calm. The bike was more under control, as opposed to my style. I can’t stop grabbing the brake and it upsets the bike a little bit.

“When I was with Toprak, I felt really good in sector one, to the braking area for example of five. But from five, I would change gear on the exit of five from first to second. I lost all the time in the lap because the rest of the lap I felt quite good. Then when the tyre started to drop, I was starting to get pushed from the front. That increased the problem I was having. I felt more unstable. I had a few moments. So, it was time just to consolidate the position. He was going away, which huge kudos to him and his team. Working fantastic. But for me, it was time to just consolidate my position and come back for a lonely second.”

Rea and his team-mate Lowes went for a B/B tyre choice, using the development fronts and rears. Most others went with the standard A front. It was not really an option, it appears.

“To be fair, we’re both back-to-back and our comments are quite similar; we prefer that because of stability,” said Rea. “Our bike, really we push the front quite a lot. Not just the stability of the bike – it’s very strong in the front, but how our engine behaves. There’s a lot of push from the engine entering the corner. Sometimes we sacrifice grip for stability. The 508 (A0508 development) tyre has more stability, but to be honest the grip level I don’t feel a big difference. I had in my head it’s the tyre I’ve crashed on in Most and in Donington, so there’s a little cloud over that tyre, but the SC1 (A at Magny Cours) doesn’t talk to me the same. I can’t play with it enough. But I’m seeing that when I look around parc ferme everyone is on SC1.

“I haven’t spoke to the guys in the box yet, but I think we need to revisit that and see how it works here in Magny-Cours because I used it in my first Superpole lap. It’s not so bad, but with the second tyre made a huge step both with the front and rear feeling. I think it’s just different bikes work differently. When I used to ride a Honda, and even the first years of the Kawasaki, I always requested the SC2 front, the hardest option, when everybody else would be with the 1699 or the super soft. Like Chaz, my main rival. It was funny. We were polar opposites with the front tyre. So, it’s how it is.”

Rea was praised for his consistency by one questioner, and his consistency at speed has won him all those World Championships but it may be a bit different this year? Is consistency enough?


“It’s strange because when you’re fighting with consistency and you know your rivals, if they’re also consistent, being consistent is not enough,” said Rea. “You have to beat them. But we have to pick our moments when that’s the case. Today wasn’t that moment. I tried in the middle. I could be there. I could fight, get the gap back a little bit but in the end it wasn’t a day for me. I think that’s going to be the key.

“Also, compared to the other seasons where I was fighting with Chaz, we were maybe a step above the rest. When I was fighting with Scott last year it was this way. When I was fighting with Alvaro it was like two guys - sometimes Chaz. This year, Scott is there and he can be super strong in some weekends. Then on the fringe of that, Andrea is doing a really good job. Alex is doing a really good job. Gerloff is doing a really good job. Everyone is there, so being consistent now is not enough.

“If you’re consistent and you have an average weekend, you can be fifth or sixth place because the level at the front in the top five, six guys is really fast.”

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