Jonathan Rea downplayed his part in his ‘save’ of a certain crash at Misano in WorldSBK race one, but it was an amazing escape that saw his entire right leg supporting him and his bike, until he wrenched the front tyre into the slide and it flipped back up.
He even negotiated his way from a gravel bed and got back into action, in third, to finally finish third. People say that Rea always finishes on the podium if he cannot win, but this was one of the more extreme examples they could count on about just how remarkable a podium finish Rea is. This was his 150th podium since he joined Kawasaki in 2015…
Of the not-quite-crash he told bikesportnews.com, “More lucky than anything,” as he described how using the new development SCO on the front was maybe not his best ever idea. “I can’t tell you the code, because I don't know the code, but this is a new front tyre I used. I used it yesterday with a not-so-good rear tyre. I didn’t feel okay, then I used it in the Superpole and it felt quite good.
"So we didn’t have a lot of information after ten laps. It seems like the temperature in the tyre, especially in the slipstream of Michael, just I cooked the tyre too much and started moving quite a lot. When I was able to rejoin and have some gap to Toprak, the tyre felt better. Not perfect, but better. So tomorrow I need to revisit to see if I can be the same fast with our normal front tyre, because really this brought some confidence on the brakes but of course we need something better to fight at the end of the race.
"My pace was still okay the last laps, but of course this moment in turn one disturbed my rhythm and let Michael go away. But he did fantastic today. The rhythm at the front was really good. The only place I could be better was maybe in the fast corners, and was just because I tried to put big balls and go and stay. But everywhere else he just had a little something, so I think tomorrow we can try to make a small step with the bike, because I learned a lot from Michael and also Toprak in that race. So tomorrow we should be better prepared.”
He explained how things went from the saddle in his fall in greater detail when pushed on the subject later, and agreed it was easily his longest slide without falling off.
I’ve never saved one of them, so pretty happy. Normally I just, not give up, but just instinct came in. I was off the bike, balancing on my boot and my knee, but then when it was folded I sort of dug it in even more and then it just picked itself up, dirt track style. Not something I’ve practiced or rehearsed, but it came back. Then as soon as it happened I thought, ‘I’m in the gravel!’ So I grabbed the brake and almost stopped so I didn’t go in the gravel, and then stayed out of it.”
Rea used the new ‘X’ rear tyre and was happy with its stiffer construction but same compound as the other X tyre - both of which were brought to Misano, plus the standard rear. “With the rear, the new X, I don't know the code, but 55 something. This was my tyre. I feel it was good. At the end I did 35.4 in the last lap.”
Rea didn’t know he set a new lap record on the second lap, but was pleased enough, as you can imagine. “Oh, good - It was quite aggressive in the first lap. I could feel like everybody wanted to lead, or not let me go to the front. When it settled down, Michael was doing a really good rhythm. He was taking me away from Toprak and Scott. So I’m happy with the race. We learned a lot.
"After losing the first practice basically on Friday (to rear brake issues) to fight for the podium was good because it created a lot of stress yesterday morning after just one session. Do we change the bike a lot, or do we keep calm? We didn’t test here last month, two months ago with everybody else. Good for our first day. I think we can make a good step tomorrow.”
Rea’s potential to reach eventual second placed rider Toprak Razgatlioglu was on for a while, but third was enough when it could so easily have ben a no-score but for his astounding save.
“There was one part of the race I thought I could get there, but he was doing no mistakes,” said Rea about Toprak. “To be honest, he was having the same problem that I was having – stopping the bike, especially T4 and 9 and 10. This right, right. So we were having the same problem, so hopefully tomorrow I can fix that and we’ll see. Hopefully be a bit closer.”
In a race with a flurry of new tyres from Pirelli, Rea liked the new rear X. It suits him and his bike, it appears. “I think at the end my rhythm was good,” he stated. “I think if we fix the front of the bike, we’ll see tomorrow that we have very good consistency with the bike. With all different characters of tyre like SC0, X, the new X, we can manipulate the bike to use every one, which is good. It shows that the ZX10RR is working in a big window.
With Rea once again ahead of Scott Redding, even after his Race One dramas, he was asked if this was another big help in beating Redding tot he championship itself. This put his dander up, a little at least. “I always get questions about Scott, but honestly, I see other riders as my main opponents also,” he stated, bluntly. “I think it’s really disrespectful to Toprak to always be talking about Scott. Also Michael today destroyed everybody. Really done an awesome job.
"So, Scott is another guy to beat, but of course last year he was the main rival. This year, Toprak is second in the championship. But it’s important when you have a mistake or a bad race, you can still be on the podium because at the end all these points count up. So I’ve been lucky today, honestly lucky. It wasn’t my skills that put me on the podium. That was luck. A lot of help from God and we’re here. Very good.”