REA ROCKS TO PHILLIP ISLAND DOUBLE WIN
WSB champ does the double despite super-tough competition and set-up strife on new Kawasaki
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