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Jonathan Rea at the 2019 WorldSBK Australian round
NEWS

Rea puts up stirring challenge to Ducati might as WorldSBK revs into action

Feb 252019

There are few better or more scenic stages for motorcycle racing that Australia’s pacey Phillip Island layout and World Champion Jonathan Rea helped create a masterful opener to the 2019 WorldSBK season.

The Kawasaki Racing Team rider saw MotoGP convert Alvaro Bautista run away to the chequered flag on his debut Ducati appearance during Saturday for the first of three in the new ‘triple dash’ format for the FIM World Championship. Rea had his marker. The four-times No.1 then bent the Ninja ZX-10RR to his will in the second affair southeast of Melbourne to take-on a confident fresh rival with some audacious moves and no shortage of aggression.

“Our race time was faster than yesterday and I am happy with the results of the weekend,” the champion stated, although he did wave goodbye to his 11-race winning streak. “I am a little bit disappointed in the classification because the gap to the front is too much. We expected a really difficult race here. I have always had to fight for results here, so to come away with three second places, a pole position and an outright fastest lap in the Superpole race; I am satisfied. Of course, there is definitely still work to do.”

“It was good to get on two podiums today,” he assessed. “In the ten-lap sprint race I was a little cautious and I got caught behind the Yamahas, so I settled. I thought I had a little bit in hand to catch Jonathan in the final race. It was a nice easy rhythm and I was feeling good with my pace. Johnny and I had some good passes; good battles. I went with him and caught him up on the last lap but I felt like I had been caught out a little bit. To battle with Jonathan in my first race weekend of the year, with his record in this class, I am happy. ”

“I'm happy enough with fourth place after struggling all weekend with the durability of the tyres,” reflected the Dutchman. “We had some problems but we still picked up a lot of points here in Phillip Island." Lowes was also focussing on the positive aspects of the weekend. “It's a bit frustrating because I felt that, looking at the times, I probably had the pace to challenge the Kawasakis for a podium but when you're three seconds behind at the end of the second lap then, round here, it's hard to make that time up,” the Brit explained. “It's a shame, but I'll take fifth place and see if we can have a stronger round next time out in Thailand.”

 

That Thai round will be the second of thirteen in three weeks time, and the Chang International Circuit will provide a very different (and hot) prospect compared to the momentum of the coastal ‘PI’. Will Rea strike back?

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