Rea 'has to accept' winless Misano WSBK weekend

Kawasaki World Superbike star Jonathan Rea has conceded that he didn’t have the pace to fight for victory in Misano, describing the weekend as “damage limitation."

Rea scored a trio of third-place results at the Italian venue, never finishing within five seconds of the winner in any of the two full-distance races, in a subpar weekend for the Kawasaki rider by his standards.

It marked the first time the Ulsterman missed out on a victory in any of the three rounds held so far this year, having bagged two wins in both Aragon and Estoril against stern opposition from Ducati rival Scott Redding.

This has allowed Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu to close the gap to 20 points in the championship standings following his victory in Race 3, although Redding fell 45 points adrift after failing to finish on the podium.

Rea said he was on the back foot all weekend after encountering brake issues in first practice on Friday, and felt his mistakes were “penalised” more than those of double winner Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Ducati) and Razgatlioglu.

“I have to accept this weekend,” said Rea. “I spent FP1 with no rear brakes, and FP2, and then you are less aggressive with strategy. 

“All in all damage limitation for the championship. I didn’t throw away points, I finished where I was gonna finish and I got very lucky on Saturday, so happy with that. 

“One stage I felt like Rinaldi was under my feet a little bit but how he accelerates on Turn 6, carries the speed through Curvone [left me with no answer]. 

“He was making some mistakes in the last corner, I felt like maybe I can set him up at Turn 1. But as soon as he hooks a gear the bike just goes. [I had] nothing for him today, not even to fight but I was there [or] thereabouts, fighting like hell. 

“I feel like when I watch them guys riding they are making small mistakes but still keeping the laptime. I feel like as soon as I make a small mistake I get penalised. I can’t just stop the bike.”

Asked to explain what Kawasaki was lacking compared to its rival this weekend, Rea said: “I think the biggest thing we missed on Saturday was the bike was very heavy to change direction, so I was fighting a lot from [Turns] 1 to 2 to 3, 4 and 5. I just wasn’t fluid. 

“If I was aggressive to the bike, the bike was moving too much - too much transfer and then I lost on acceleration. That little bit of edge grip. 

“But the bike has a lot of grip when we pick it up on the shoulder of the rear. So just working on edge grip, agility but Donington can be very flowing, I can be one with the bike.”

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Rea was chasing Rinaldi for victory in the opening encounter of the weekend when he was nearly thrown off his Kawasaki at the exit of Turn 1. But the 34-year-old miraculously managed to remain on the bike, losing only one place to Razgatligolu.

“I’d like to say I was learning from Marc Marquez, but it was complete luck,” Rea quipped.

“I used a different front tyre to the one I worked with a lot this weekend. Just staying so long in Michael’s slipstream, I think I cooked the tyre, it’s so hot [in Misano]. 

“I peeled into Turn 1 and just caught some bumps and the front just started to go away and I really dug in my knee and also dug in my handlebar to try to snap it back and it came back. 

“Honestly one moment in my brain I thought the race was over, but when it came back I got on the brakes so hard that I didn’t go in the gravel and [could] rejoin the race.“

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