Saturday, August 17News That Matters

Rea needed Imola wins to keep up motivation – Motorsport.com, Edition: Global


Four-time WSBK champion Rea finally stood on the top step of the podium for the first time in 2019 in the opening race at the Italian circuit last weekend, ending an incredible run of 11 successive victories for series newcomer and points leader Alvaro Bautista.

He followed that up with another triumph in the Superpole race on Sunday morning, before the second full-distance race was called off due to bad weather.

Reflecting on the weekend, Rea revealed he found it difficult to process the fact he had been beaten by Bautista at Assen – one of Kawasaki’s happiest hunting grounds in recent years – and therefore headed to Imola putting pressure on himself to finally beat his rival.

“Really positive weekend,” said Rea. “My feeling with the bike here and to really be able to get the maximum out of the bike, and to pick up two race wins, I’m really happy.

“I want to thank all the team for keeping pushing. We’ve been getting beat pretty flat out, but we never stopped believing. This weekend was a perfect chance to win.

“In Assen we were close. With our form here in the past, and the way our bike works here, it was our chance and we had to take it, which I did in both races.

“It was tough not winning in Assen because it’s been such a strong track for us. So for my own motivation, for the championship, I needed to do a good weekend.

“I talked myself into it the last few weeks, and I’m glad because I feel a lot of pressure, and if I didn’t deliver my head could have dropped.”

Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / LAT Images

Rea however admits he doesn’t expect to be in a position to win races in every round, and that Kawasaki still needs to work to catch up with Ducati at most tracks.

“To be honest, right now this is a very unique circumstance,” said the Ulsterman, who still trails Bautista by 43 points in the riders’ standings. “I don’t expect this to be the norm. We still have a lot of ground to catch up in certain areas.

“Just riding that one lap [behind] Chaz [Davies] in the sprint race, it’s clear we still have a lot of work to do.”

Bautista hopes Jerez will be “normal”

After his defeat to Rea on Saturday, Bautista said he felt the Imola track was the first on the calendar to expose the deficiencies of the hitherto dominant Ducati V4.

On Sunday, the ex-MotoGP rider finished third in the Superpole race, held back by his use of Pirelli’s qualifying tyre, but said he had to “try something different” to challenge Rea.

The Spaniard added he hopes things will be back to “normal” in Jerez next month.

“The problem of our bike as I said yesterday, it’s always the same, but on this track, I feel even worse,” said Bautista. “[Of the other tracks coming up] maybe Laguna Seca is very similar to this track, maybe also Portimao is a track like this one.

“Jerez I know very well and I hope everything comes back to normal. We see what happens there.”

Additional reporting by Lorenza d’Adderio

Alvaro Bautista, Aruba.it Racing-Ducati Team

Alvaro Bautista, Aruba.it Racing-Ducati Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / LAT Images

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