REA BACK AT THE FRONT: "I felt at one with the bike!"

Saturday, 20 April 2024 12:53 GMT

The six-time Champion claimed his first pole since switching to Yamaha and coming home P6 in Race 1 in a chaotic race

Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) returned to the front of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship field by claiming pole position in Saturday morning’s Tissot Superpole session and backing that up with a top-six finish in Race 1. Although it wasn’t the rostrum, he and everyone at Yamaha would’ve been hoping for, it was a best Yamaha finish for the #65 and he was just a few seconds away from the podium at the TT Circuit Assen.

The rain came down at the start of the Superpole session although it didn’t wet the track too much more, with it drying out towards the end of the 15-minute session. Rea spent the entire session out on track, gradually improving his time to a 1’42.650s to claim pole by a tenth ahead of Nicolo Bulega ( Racing - Ducati). It was his first Yamaha pole, the 44th of his career and Great Britain’s 160th.

Discussing his pole, Rea said: “I really enjoyed the Superpole session because I felt at one with the bike, even in the tricky conditions. Lap after lap, I felt the rhythm. You never know how fast to go because there’s a lot of risk, but the track was damp and drying out. That overheats the tyres, and you move around. I kept thinking someone would come in for an intermediate, but I had no time left, so when I saw P1 on my pitboard, I was so happy. Not just me but all the guys in the team, we needed this lift. It’s nice for Yamaha too.”

In Race 1, Rea dropped down the order to sixth, but it was still his best Yamaha result, even if the #65 would’ve been hoping for a podium or more after lining up from pole. With tricky conditions, and rain falling before the race but stopping and the track drying enough in most points for riders to use slick tyres, it was chaotic with a group of five or six riders behind race winner Nicholas Spinelli (Barni Spark Racing Team).

On his race, Rea said: “It set up us for the race to make a good start. I got the holeshot but, in the first part, you never want to be the guy leading in those conditions because you don’t know how slippery it is. I made a couple of mistakes. The defining moment of my race was probably ‘Loka’ coming through at the last corner, I lost two positions just off the back of the group. I had a huge moment between Turns 2 and 3. Aside from that, you had to be patient until the track dried out. The track almost got completely dry, there was a dry line through sector one, and the rest of the track dried throughout the race. There are some areas we need to improve the bike tomorrow. A real shame the red flag came out because I felt like I was making some progress at the end. I could smell a podium, but I was just too far away.”

Can Rea get a rostrum on Sunday? Find out using the WorldSBK VideoPass!