Former WorldSBK king Jonathan Rea and Axel Bassani had a crowd-pleasing fight last time out in Barcelona and while it looked like hard work for the KRT man, it gave him more insights into Ducati’s world - and that of title-rival Alvaro Bautista - to compare to the work he knows with Kawasaki for the remainder of the season.
“For example, when they change gear, the first exits of the corner, I’m there and I can be there,” Rea told bikesportnews.com on the Sunday at Catalunya. “It’s more about balance and electronics.
“But as soon as they change gear and then the straight, like for example, I could ride on to him - It’s funny, if you have an on-board camera, you’ll see in the last corner I can come like this, but as soon as they change gear, I just keep my position. Same with nine to ten.
“Pere [Riba] gave me a really good bike at the stop. So, I was not frustrated with this, and of course he [Axel] was riding his own race, but there was one point he wasn’t going forward, and I was trying to show, ‘hey I’m here.’ But as soon as I went through, I went a little bit wide and he stuffed me again. Like, [Iker] Lecuona and Alex [Lowes] are going, I want to go with them! But, he was fighting his race. He was doing a good job.
“I don’t know where he finished, but for me, it was just a little bit frustrating because I couldn’t just pass in the straight. I had to really stress the tyre in acceleration. That was not my plan. The plan was to preserve the tyre, but when you’re stuck and you can’t pass in the straight, you have to use the tyre. You have to push the tyre to get there.
‘So, I was like, ‘I need to pass but I don’t want to use the tyre. I have to go’. So, it was a little bit like that. But I also I feel with the speed, I can be there. If we do another superpole, I’m sure I’m at the front. But, with the race, with Alvaro’s pace, I feel I’m not going to win. So, it was more about understanding where I could be. We had two strategies. Try to go with Alvaro, like Toprak [Razgatlioglu] did - in the end, this was the wrong strategy. Or be the tortoise and the hare. So, I thought my Saturday is more the tortoise.”
From what Rea had understood before he even came to Catalunya, knowing it was going to be tough, has Bautista’s advantage much more to do with the speed or that his rival’s bike uses the tyre better?
“Both,” he said. “For example, Friday morning I was behind Alvaro. Just taking his slip stream I was two-tenths quicker in sector one. Just with the slipstream. And that’s one acceleration. So, you count all accelerations at full gas in the circuit, it adds up in the laps. So, that’s the quantity of risk you have to take to be with him.
“Of course, he’s riding really strong as well. You have to manage everything. In a crucial circuit like this, where the tyre consumption is a lot, being 20 kilos less than me is also very good for the tyre. So, I think they have a better package than us here.”