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Rea finds Kawasaki's WSBK concessions strategy "strange"

Jonathan Rea admits he finds Kawasaki’s refusal to use the extra 500pm it has been granted under World Superbike’s concession rules “strange”.

Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team WSBK, Alvaro Bautista, Aruba.it Racing Ducati

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Kawasaki has been granted two separate rev increases so far this season, with the ZX-10RR going from a maximum of 14600rpm as of the start of the campaign to 15100rpm ahead of the most recent round at Imola.

However, the brand issued a statement at Imola to clarify that it would not be taking advantage of the increase granted to it by the rule makers amid its competitive struggles against dominant manufacturer Ducati and championship leader Alvaro Bautista.

Instead, Kawasaki plans to wait until it can introduce an engine upgrade that will allow it to better take advantage of the extra revs, but this won’t happen until after the ninth round of the season at Magny-Cours under the current rules.

Speaking at Imola, Rea questioned whether waiting for Kawasaki to be granted more concession points was really the correct attitude to take.

“An extra 500rpm would help, as then you can have more aggressive gear ratios and improve acceleration,” said Rea, who finished third in both full-distance races at Imola.

“With a different camshaft, we could generate more power, I guess. But I don’t understand the direction the team and Kawasaki want to take. 

“We have to get concession points before we can make the change. But the goal is to get on the podium and fight for wins, and then you don’t get concessions. 

“We have to be competitive. I hope we don’t get the concessions because it means we’ve done well and we don’t need them. It’s strange.”

 

Rea sits fourth in the standings with five rounds to go this year, but has gone winless since last year’s Phillip Island round amid Bautista’s domination.

The six-time world champion admits that he has been forced to lower his expectations and find satisfaction from achieving objectives other than winning races.

“It was frustrating at the beginning, especially last year,” said the 36-year-old. “It wasn’t easy to accept being so far behind. But at some point, you make peace with it. You realise you have a different package. 

“I can only ride what I have. You have to get motivation from small things and not think about winning, because that’s not realistic with the current rules and bike. 

“It was difficult to adjust to, but once you make peace with it, it becomes the new normal.”

While Kawasaki has had its maximum revs increased, the Ducati V4 R Panigale has seen its rpm cut by 500rpm since the start of the season.

The latest adjustment did not stop Bautista winning the first race at Imola, but he crashed out of the second full-distance race of the weekend, marking his first defeat outside of the shorter Superpole races in 2023.

Speaking prior to those events, Rea said he was convinced Bautista had not unleashed his full performance potential.

"He still has room to go faster," said Rea. "When he wants to, he rides away. His tactic is to avoid battles. If he decides during a race to ride away, then he's gone.

"You can always tell in racing if someone has something up his sleeve. And he still has a lot up his sleeve."

 

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