World Superbike: Jonathan Rea’s worst-ever Kawasaki finish
Reigning World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea says he will “try to forget” the final race of the Jerez weekend as he laboured to sixth place, his worst-ever finish as a Kawasaki rider.
After finishing second behind Ducati’s Scott Redding in Saturday’s Jerez opener, Rea won the Superpole race on Sunday morning to take pole for the second feature-length encounter.
But the five-time WSBK champion struggled badly as he lost the lead at the start of the second lap and faded all the way to sixth, 12.5s behind Redding.
Excluding races in which he failed to finish, Rea’s previous worst result for Kawasaki, which he joined in 2015, was fifth place in the 2018 Phillip Island opener, having not finished as low as sixth since the 2014 Laguna Seca round aboard a Ten Kate-run Honda.
“I had huge grip problems from lap one,” Rea reflected. “I was running the hard tyre [on Saturday], which felt really good, and I thought with more rubber on track it would even better [on Sunday]. I considered that maybe it was the first lap and it would take some cleaning and it would come good, but it never did.
“It was the longest race I’ve had. I was defending my position a lot, not how I wanted to ride. Frustrating race, I’ll try to forget it.
“This track has not been the kindest to us in the past, I feel like [on Saturday and Sunday morning] we turned that around and the bike was working great. I don’t want this bad race to cloud our overall conclusion from the weekend.”
Asked if he had changed much about his ZX-RR from Saturday to Sunday, Rea said: “We used the same bike, the set-up changes were minimal, same tyres. Frustrating as my overall race time was much slower [than on Saturday]. It was a hard race.”
Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team, Toprak Razgatlioglu, Pata Yamaha
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Rea heads to this weekend’s third round of the season at Portimao 24 points adrift of new championship leader Redding, but remains optimistic that other circuits will offer him good opportunities to close the gap to the ex-MotoGP rider.
“Typically Jerez has not been the strongest circuit for us, so I take away more positives than negatives this weekend,” said Rea.
“It’s going to be a tough season, Scott looks like he’ll be strong at every circuit, but there are some circuits he hasn’t been to before, like Magny-Cours and Portimao, so we shall see.”
Lowes struggles in heat
Rea’s Kawasaki teammate Alex Lowes had come into the Jerez weekend leading the points after a strong opening round at Phillip Island back in late February, before the season was placed on hold amid the global coronavirus pandemic.
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