Rea "has to be happy" after second and fifth at Jerez: "it’s never been the strongest track for us"

Sunday, 26 September 2021 14:11 GMT

The six-time Champion saw the gap in the Championship grow as he finished second and fifth while Toprak Razgatlioglu won both races

The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship witnessed two action-packed races at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto for the Motul Spanish Round, the tenth round of an epic season. Extending his Championship lead, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) over Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), with the reigning six-time World Champion only able to come home fifth in Race 2 after a second in Race 1 struggling in the higher temperatures.

Rea’s day got off to a good start as he led for the majority of Race 1, hitting the front with a bold move on Toprak Razgatlioglu at Turn 8, leaving the Turk in his wake. However, Rea was soon back under pressure from Toprak, with Razgatlioglu stalking Rea. The two had a major moment at Turn 6, when Razgatlioglu attempted a pass under braking but clattered the back of Rea, somehow both staying on. On Lap 14 at Turn 1, Razgatlioglu made his move and came through to win.

Race 2 would be a totally different story, however, with Rea not hitting the front once and instead, he was passed on Lap 1 by Michael Ruben Rinaldi ( Racing – Ducati). Soon enough, Scott Redding ( Racing – Ducati) also came through, before Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) and Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC) relegated Rea to sixth. Rea was then embroiled in a scrap with Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing), although he kept the rookie sensation at bay. Coming home fifth after Rinaldi faded, Rea is 20 points back in the title race.

Speaking at the end of the day, Rea shared his thoughts: “From a riding point of view, it’s been quite positive. Jerez has been very difficult for us in the past. I feel we really maximized our potential this morning in cooler conditions in Race 1. I felt very strong, I could fight with my bike, with the harder option rear tyre. In the afternoon, we opted for the soft because normally when we put this tyre on, at least I have grip. Sometimes there’s a tyre drop but also grip. I was very consistent through the race but consistently slow. That’s hard to understand. We need to look at the data but similar feelings to Barcelona when the heat came up.”

As Rea sits 20 back, it’s the biggest Championship gap since Rea himself led by 37 points following Razgatlioglu’s DNF in Assen Race 2. Heading to Portimao, a circuit where Rea has won at 12 times, he’ll be hoping that he can shine on a track he has become synonymous with in recent WorldSBK seasons. Regardless, another thrilling weekend lies ahead for Rea’s rivalry with Razgatlioglu, and the spectacle in one of the most incredible Championship seasons seen.

For the second round in a row, Rea found himself further down the order as the temperatures came up. Discussing his bike and hot conditions, the six-time Champion said: “I think when we put the soft rear tyre on, the bike behaves a little bit differently. Today, it was quite uncharacteristically wrong, something not right. I had zero grip from the beginning, entering the corner, with traction feeling. Like stopping traction and also on the edge of the tyre. It’s peculiar because in the weekend even in hot conditions, when I wanted to use this tyre, I could be really fast on some laps but had some drop. Let’s see. We’ll analyse all the data. Still happy. To come away from Jerez with a second and a fifth is, in some ways, I have to be happy with that because it’s never been the strongest track for us in race conditions.”

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