Having entered the first ever Most WorldSBK round 37 points ahead of his big championship rival Toprak Razgatlioglu Rea left just three points ahead, and now a much reduced 50 ahead of last year’s potential nemesis, Scott Redding.
Rea went with the harder option SC0 rear, to be safe after his two crashes on Saturday in Race One. He had, of course, used the SCX ‘ten-lap tyre’ in the morning Superpole race, where he finished third, having run of track again, without crashing. It was his 200th career podium, which he and his team celebrated by letting fly 200 balloons on the slowdown lap.
In the long race two, his tyre option did not work out the way he expected. “It was the more conservative option because I’ve never done many laps with the SCX tyre all weekend, just in the Superpole race for ten laps,” said Rea.
“Even the temperature increased a lot. I was nervous to use this tyre. So, we stuck with the conservative option. In the beginning, I felt my rhythm is okay. I got a little bit stuck behind Locatelli, but after I went past, even by myself I couldn’t close the gap.
“Scott and Toprak were much better rhythm, better pace today. It was more about third. I felt on the grid I didn’t accept that position, but maybe in the second part of the race it will come to me because I have the hard tyre and I will be more constant, but I just started with less grip and the tyre drop was the same. The offset, they could be a half a second faster in the beginning and they were half a second faster at the end. That’s the story of the race.”
Rea’s second Race One crash was, as he said, like being in the washing machine for a while. He was sore but uninjured, with just a stiff shoulder in the Sunday races, and a sore back when he woke up. And a headache…
“I didn’t feel so good this morning with my back,” said Rea. “I’ve had some headaches. The team physio, Albert, has been working really hard yesterday and also today to give me some power. I feel tired now. My shoulder is sore, my back. On the bike you really don’t notice it. You have a little bit less strength, especially in my right shoulder. But during riding, the last thing I thought about was the pain. Now I’m sure I’ll sleep good tonight!”
Rea likes to get ahead and pout his rivals under pressure but his starts were not as sharp as they once were. A lot to modern-day launch is down to bike settings, as he alluded to. “I’m a little bit frustrated with our starts, to be honest. We’re trying many things. Every time something different.
“But it’s very true. We’re really struggling off the start now. Last year I could always make a holeshot. Even from the second row I could be fast in turn one, but this year the Yamaha is super fast off the first-gear acceleration, second gear. And the Ducati has the power.
“So, if we have a long straight like here into T1, I have no chance. It’s something we need to work on in Montmelo test. We go there this Thursday and Friday. We might use one day or one day and a half, but that will be top of the agenda to keep working on the starts.”
Rea’s bike is also maybe not developing as fast as some others, notably the Yamaha, and he was also beaten each time by the Ducati of Redding. So what was his issue specific to Most, or more generally?
“We know with the bumps our bike doesn’t absorb the bumps as good as the other bikes,” said Rea. “Our chassis is very strong. It wants late brakes, hard accelerations. This circuit is very bumpy and also a lot of change direction, like Donington. I crashed in the bumps. Yesterday I crashed on bumps. It’s hard, because I don’t feel this limit.
“I feel like I’m riding okay, under control, and then the crash. We see from that there’s a lot of chatter. When I’m crashing the front is not absorbing the bump and then I lose the front contact feeling. Something to keep working. No doubt when we feel good with the bike, like in Assen or Donington even, I’ve been very fast. Hopefully it’s a Most situation and we can move on next weekend and be strong.”