WSB champ does the dou­ble de­spite su­per-tough com­pe­ti­tion and set-up strife on new Kawasaki

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Mcn sport - AT PHILLIP IS­LAND WSB REPORTER

There were plenty of peo­ple who thought last year’s dom­i­nant world cham­pion Jonathan Rea was go­ing to find things a lot tougher this time round – but Rea him­self was not one of those peo­ple!

The fact he failed to top the Su­per­pole shootout did sug­gest he was go­ing to face some tough com­pe­ti­tion but, while he didn’t have things all his own way, he did walk away from the open­ing round at Phillip Is­land with a dou­ble win.

The new Kawasaki ZX-10R was ex­pected to suit Rea’s Bri­tish team-mate Tom Sykes bet­ter as he’d helped de­velop the ma­chine, but af­ter his stun­ning dou­ble the reign­ing champ left Oz with a 14-point cham­pi­onship lead. To take max­i­mum points at the open­ing round of the sea­son af­ter lim­ited test­ing and de­vel­op­ment was no mean feat.

A de­lighted Rea said: “We hear so much noise about other peo­ple hav­ing new bikes this year,” he said with his se­cond cham­pagne-soaked tro­phy un­der his arm. “We have a new bike, new chas­sis, new en­gine, so it is a big change from last year. That was high­lighted with how we at­tacked the win­ter test sea­son when we had so many com­po­nents to an­a­lyse.”

And in a state­ment that will send a shiver down his ri­vals’ spines, Rea made it clear that there’s still an­other 10-15% to come from his new Ninja. “It shows the strength of Kawasaki in this cham­pi­onship and the strength of the team be­hind me. Al­though I am the guy who crossed the line and took the glory, there are so many peo­ple in­volved be­hind the scenes who have brought the bike here. I am just so grate­ful to be in­volved with a fac­tory like Kawasaki. Like last year, I just ap­proached things step-by-step.”

Al­though Rea’s old Honda Fire­blade gave him a hard time at times over the week­end in the hands of the youth­ful Michael van der Mark, Rea has hardly put a foot wrong since he joined Kawasaki. But he feels that with strong chal­lenges from many quar­ters in 2016 he will not be able to stretch away in the ti­tle chase as eas­ily as he did in 2015.

Rea said: “I think that who­ever wins this year’s cham­pi­onship will do so in a dif­fer­ent way from last year. What hap­pened last sea­son only hap­pens once in a long time. I ex­pect many guys to come to the fore – van der Mark is at the front now and Da­vide Gi­ugliano is fully fit.

“At some times last year it was my­self and Chaz Davies, Tom Sykes and some­times Leon Haslam, but this year there are more guys who can get in the podium mix. To get that five-point ad­van­tage by win­ning races – to score 25 in­stead of 20 - is go­ing to be very im­por­tant. We need to take the wins when we can and when we can’t we need to fin­ish as high as pos­si­ble be­cause there are so many guys who can take big points off each other.”

Rea car­ried the num­ber one plate into bat­tle for the first time in Phillip Is­land, the home of his wife Ta­tia and did his fam­ily, friends and team proud yet again. Twice.

He may have only won by 0.063 sec­onds and then 0.831 sec­onds but even a last-lap drama with Davies in Satur­day’s race had one im­pres­sive out­come. A Rea win.

While Phillip Is­land her­alded a new era in so many ways for WSB – not least with the run­ning of one race on Satur­day and an­other on Sun­day – nor­mal ser­vice was re­sumed as far as Rea was con­cerned.

‘ This year there are more guys who can get in the podium mix’ JONATHAN REA

Do­ing his No1 plate proud, Rea en­tered WSB’S new era with a

dou­ble vic­tory

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