Rea: "The conditions were almost like nothing I’ve ever seen in my career!"
The six-time Champion finished second in Race 2 to make it three podiums from three races in Australia
As the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship concluded at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit during the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round, six-time Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) reflected on his weekend and the difficult conditions that came throughout the round. Race 1 was a flag-to-flag encounter which he mastered while the Tissot Superpole Race featured a pre-race downpour that made tyre selection crucial ahead of the 10-lap showdown, while Race 2 was red flagged a few laps from the scheduled race distance.
Rea followed up his tactical masterclass from Race 1 on Saturday with two podiums on Sunday, taking third in the Superpole Race and second in Race 2 after a hard-fought battle with rival Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). The 2022 Champion just emerged on top in that fight despite Rea’s best efforts, with Rea often closing up on Bautista through the high-speed corners and under braking, before Bautista pulled a gap down the start-finish straight before braking into Turn 1.
Reflecting on his weekend, and the battle with Bautista, Rea said: ““We know the result. I gave everything. We can be quite satisfied with our efforts this weekend to go 1-3-2. Good overall points for the weekend. The conditions were almost like nothing I’ve ever seen in my career! Tyre decisions, pit stops, red flag in Race 2 with the conditions coming in. From my weekend, I’m really happy with my team and the way I’m riding the bike. Even in Race 2 with Alvaro, I felt stronger everywhere but the start-finish line. They were taking so much time, but through Turn 1, Turn 2 and even Turn 3, with the traction, an area we’ve really struggled with in the past, I had more grip and the tyre was very linear. Big thanks to my team. Looking forward now to a little bit of rest before we start focusing on 2023. We can be satisfied with our work this year.”
Rea also had a look back at his 2022 season where he finished in third place in the standings, behind Bautista and 2021 Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK). He took six wins throughout the season, with his Race 1 victory in Australia 24 races and 181 days after his previous win which came at Estoril. A philosophical Rea praised Ducati for being the reference in 2022.
He said: “It’s the story of our season really. As frustrating as it is, huge kudos to Ducati. They’ve really excelled in their engine performance, let’s say, this year. They’re really making us step up. It’s a good thing. This weekend, for sure, we crossed all the Ts and dotted all the Is in all the other areas of the setup. My bike was very stable on the brakes. We were able to focus on the mechanical traction but just missing that little bit they have on the straight. The bikes were quite balanced over a lap. The lap times were quite similar and, to be fair to Alvaro, it’s quite difficult to lead around here especially in the wind so he was creating a good reference for me, just to be there.”
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