REA WINS COME RAI
MASTERCLASS Dodgy Dutch weather fails to dampen champ’s spirits as he does the double and storms
Weather wreaked havoc at Assen but it failed to stop Jonathan Rea as he marched relentlesly towards another WSB title.
Rea left the last round in Aragon – where he was beaten by Tom Sykes and Chaz Davies - unhappy with his bike’s base settings, but he bounced back in emphatic fashion with a dominating double win.
Assen is a track where Rea has excelled, but before the weekend’s action got under way, Rea’s domination was far from a sure thing with the reigning champion saying he hadn’t had much time to sort out his set-up. And in the ever-changing and treacherous conditions it looked like a whole host of other riders were prepared to risk everything in a bid to win. The competition was intense, but it was Rea who shone through to win two very different races.
While the Aragon race had opened up a weakness in the marriage of Rea and his all-new Kawasaki ZX-10R, the Assen weekend cemented their status as potential life-long lovers.
“The way I try to explain it is that we are in a relationship,” said Rea. “I really loved my 2015 bike, it was like a love affair. Whereas this bike I feel I am just getting to first base with!”
Davies and Sykes were strong again in race one, and even the Hondas got into the mix. Rea expected to be pushed harder and says there’s still more to come as the team work hard to improve the bike.
“We have to remind ourselves that the bike I felt incredible on last year was in its fifth year of evolution,” he said when asked why he is still making big changes in his set-up during race weekends.
“With the new bike we already have a lot of information and incredible people but it is just experience. The weight balance of the bike is completely different and it lends itself to a completely different riding style but I know I can get the best out of the bike.”
What Rea needs for that, he says, is more testing. He is allowed eight days of in-season tests, which if he continues to improve is a scary proposition for his rivals given that he has already won five out of eight races and enjoys a commanding 45-point lead.
“We are really crying out for more testing to be honest but there is no time,” said Rea who like the rest of the WSB grid is in the middle of a cycle of week-on, week-off races. “Now the trucks go to Imola, after Imola the flight boxes go straight off to Sepang then the flight boxes go to Donington, so the next time we can test would be at the end of May, beginning of June. We are having to do all our testing at the racetrack.”
So, even after four rounds, the question is: can anyone catch Rea?
The jury may be out on that one for now, but his rivals all struggled at Assen in the changing conditions.
After eight races, and still not happy with his set-up, Rea is managing to find a consistency that belies the stuggles he is having with his machine.
Rea may be the man on the top step of the podium, but the new King of Assen is certainly having to work for it.