Rea "frustrated" after "struggling" with Kawasaki's top speed
Jonathan Rea says Kawasaki’s straightline speed deficit left him “frustrated” in the final World Superbike race in Argentina, even as he managed to cut the points gap to Toprak Razgatlioglu.
Rea engaged in a thrilling contest for victory with Yamaha rival Razgatlioglu and Ducati’s Scott Redding on Sunday, with the San Juan Circuit highlighting the weaknesses and strengths of their respective bikes.
At a number of occasions, Rea was able to exploit the superior cornering ability of his Kawasaki to pass Razgatlioglu into Turn 7, only for the Turkish rider to repass him on the following straight each time.
When Redding cleared both riders in the middle part of the race on his way to a seventh win of the season, Rea had to get the move done on Razgatlioglu for second under braking for Turn 1 - and then hold on to his position in the next sequence of corners.
Speaking after the race, Rea conceded that the Kawasaki ZX-10RR was not a match for the Yamaha R1 or the Ducati Panigale V4 R on top speed, but was pleased that his bike was strong in other areas.
“Very frustrated," he admitted. “The easiest place to pass somebody is on a straight line and we don't have that. We were really struggling with acceleration and top speed of our machine.
“But the fact that we can be there lap after lap shows that our bike is really good in other areas. It would be nice to have that free time in my pocket but it's not the case.”
Razgatlioglu ran wide at several occasions while running in the lead in Race 2, as he faced a sterner challenge from both Rea and Redding than he did in the previous two races of the weekend.
Rea says the mistakes showed Razgatlioglu was having to work really hard trying to keep up to pace with his rivals.
“He almost crashed twice today, at Turn 12 he locked the front two times in front of me,” said the Ulsterman. “So he's riding on his limit as well. You can feel that sense of urgency when he's in the race because his passes are really late.
“When I could fight with him I could understand a lot more how he was managing the race from a mental point of view. That was nice because I felt much more in control, I could take a breath and understand."
Razgatlioglu won the opening two races of the weekend to extend his lead at the top of the championship, before Rea managed to beat him to second place in the final full-distance race to bring the gap down to 30 points.
With only 62 points on offer across the final three races in Indonesia next month, Rea will need some misfortune to strike Razgatlioglu to extend his streak of titles to seven in WSBK.
Rea is under no illusion about the challenge he faces to dethrone long-time points leader Razgatlioglu, but feels he is in a better position than Redding was when the Ducati rider faced a 59-point deficit in last year's final round.
“I don't want to think too much about the championship," said the 34-year-old. "I know from the past, last year going to Estoril with Scott behind me, it was mathematically possible but realistically impossible - the points gap was so big.
“But I knew what I was thinking when he was so far behind. 30 [points] is a lot better than that position.
“I could just go to Indonesia and worry about myself but it's racing, anything can happen.
“[Yamaha] need a clean weekend to get it done, but of course [Razgatlioglu] is in a much better position than I am, so it's better to have an advantage than to come behind, especially the way he's been riding.
"He's been riding really strong, so we can just do our best, concentrate on myself and try and learn from our difficulties this season.”
Argentina WSBK: Redding wins, Rea cuts gap to Razgatlioglu
Razgatlioglu: Bike chattering spoiled hopes of triple WSBK win