Jonathan Rea says he has reason to be positive about the upcoming 2012 World Superbike Championship season, despite a relatively unfulfilling opening weekend at Phillip Island.
Embarking on his fourth season as a Honda WSBK rider, Rea showed flashes of speed in the run up to race day, but while good starts in both races had him chasing the leaders, tyre problems towards the end on each occasion would prevent him from reaching the podium.
Finishing seventh in race one after losing out in a drag to the line with Michel Fabrizio, Rea responded in race two to run second for much of the race, but a waning rear tyre would drop him into the clutches of Max Biaggi and then Tom Sykes, the latter compounding his day by also nudging ahead on the run to the chequered flag.
Nonetheless, Rea believes the tyre issues are more indicative of Phillip Island than the bike and is expecting the second round at Imola, where he was a winner in 2011, to be more favourable.
“We've still got a bagful of points to go on to Imola with but we wanted to be on the podium in both races,” he said. “I honestly feel like we got a bad tyre in race one and in race two we didn't want to run in the same situation, so we were thinking about changing the tyre, but all our logic and race runs throughout the weekend told us to keep this [harder] tyre in the heat.
“Directly, I had more grip – OK, the temperature was even hotter, which would go against our logic – but the tyre felt like it should feel and I was able to ride strong and consistent until probably five laps to go when durability fell off and I was going backwards. I felt fresh and strong in both races and the guys have worked well all weekend.
“We had a little crash on Saturday and the boys worked so good with the one-bike rule to get us back out there. You have to think that this circuit is a bit unique with the tyre character, how long you're on the side and the heat generated in the tyre.
“Now we move on to some tracks that are good for us and there's a lot of work to do back at base. The guys need to find some speed, so that's on the agenda; I've just done a de-brief and everything feels OK. I want to say thanks to everyone for all their help this weekend – it feels good to get to the start of the season fit and healthy and I'm looking forward to round two now.”