Late accident doesn’t dampen defending champion’s hopes as he leads going into Saturday
Perhaps inspired by the phenomenal weather at the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Jonathan Rea’s (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) Friday performance was almost picture-perfect, blue skies all around – until that turn 5 crash darkened the mood in Free Practice 3. A solitary dark cloud for Rea, or a silver lining for his closest rivals: read either way, the reigning champion’s accident adds intrigue to what was already shaping up to be a thrilling weekend.
For the first two sessions and half of the third, Rea had put on a clinic around Laguna Seca, as Round 8 of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship kicked off in California. The Northern Irishman topped the timesheets early in FP1, extended his lead in FP2, and still had time to take P1 in FP3 in his sixteen minutes out on track.
Perhaps it was precisely the ease with which Rea was riding that forced his untimely error – or at least, that was how the man of the day interpreted it: “I’m really enjoying riding the bike. In fact, that was the reason for the crash – pushing and pushing, with so much confidence, that eventually we find the limit! I’m happy to do that today instead of tomorrow, when it matters”.
“It’s just a shame to end the day with a crash to be honest, because now I have to sleep on that”, the reigning champion adds.
Despite the limited track time, Rea and his team still had the chance to make some important advances on Friday, in terms of understanding the ZX-10RR’s behavior at Laguna Seca: “The team made a crucial change at the end of FP2, when the red flags came out. The guys made a big chassis change, and we got 2-3 laps to confirm that was good to go in the afternoon. I strung I think 10 laps together before I went down. Until that point, we were fast and consistent”.
“We understand here the tyre does drop quite a bit, entry traction and also the front tyre, so we just need to understand that tomorrow when it happens in the race”, admits Rea.
The three-time champion also believes that tomorrow’s Superpole may be more important than on average: “Track position is very important here in Laguna. Race 1 is the one you try to win for sure, because you put yourself at the front. Traffic here is a big issue, it’s very hard to pass and be clean passing because of the narrow racing line”.
Will today’s crash dent the leader’s confidence tomorrow? Find out live and OnDemand thanks to the WorldSBK VideoPass!