Rea: ‘We never nailed the set-up, riding over my head, I’m frustrated’

Six-time WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea left frustrated yet again after another dismal Race 2 at Mandalika.
Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki WorldSBK Mandalika 2023
Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki WorldSBK Mandalika 2023

After fighting for the podium during the Superpole Race, a race in which he ultimately claimed fourth, Rea lacked the necessary pace to go with the leading riders.

Similar to Race 1, Rea was instead embroiled in a battle for fifth before crashing out at turn seven, which is an error that’s left him 68 points behind Alvaro Bautista after just two rounds.

Unable to get the set-up of his ZX-10RR in the right window, Rea said: "It has been a very difficult weekend, with not so many positives. We, step-by-step, found a better direction. The track here in Mandalika has been quite inconsistent from Friday, when the grip level was really low, but we understood on raceday that the grip level was incredibly high. 

"So, we never nailed the set-up perfectly, but I felt that we got better. In the races I felt my rhythm was OK but unfortunately in the Superpole Race I found some traffic in front of me and it was very difficult to pass. 

"But I felt my pace was quite good. In Race Two I lost the front. Not exactly quite sure why, but it is quite windy in that area. I think the wind just picked the front up. I am frustrated and I found it very difficult to pass anyone on acceleration or on the brakes."

Rea ‘riding over my head’ as WorldSBK title push appears unlikely 

Jonathan Rea Superpole race, Indonesian WorldSBK, 5 March
Jonathan Rea Superpole race, Indonesian WorldSBK, 5 March

Although it remains very early in the 2023 season, Rea and Kawasaki have improvements to make if they want to fight Bautista for race wins.

Rea has failed to finish within three seconds of a race winner at any stage so far this season, while he’s claimed just one podium which is his worst return as a Kawasaki rider since joining the team in 2015.

"I was riding over my head sometimes on the brakes and in the corners trying to stay with the group," added Rea after Race 2. "But, we have to accept this tough weekend, try to learn from it and then put it behind us when we head back to Europe. 

"We will have much more information now. So even as we are disappointed, we need to keep our heads up and keep fighting. I feel Assen is a great track to come back to with some strong results."

Lowes claims first podium of the season before tough Race 2

Alex Lowes Superpole race, Indonesian WorldSBK, 5 March
Alex Lowes Superpole race, Indonesian WorldSBK, 5 March

Alex Lowes’ day got off to a chaotic start after an incident involving Loris Baz and Danilo Petrucci in the Superpole Race.

All three riders crashed, however, Lowes was able to re-join the action when the race restarted following the first red flag of the year.

Making the most of his second opportunity, Lowes claimed third place behind the Pata Yamaha duo of Toprak Razgatlioglu and Andrea Locatelli.

However, Lowes was unable to do the same in Race 2 after an early mistake resulted in him dropping as low as P14. 

"Hard work and a chaotic day," added Lowes. "The Superpole Race was good, in terms of having a good pace, grip and the bike felt good. I felt a little bit stronger than Locatelli in the last couple of laps. I felt strong on the bike with the soft SCX tyre in the rear. 

"The temperature was down a little bit, which helps our bike. It is always tough in those short action packed races. So to get up off the ground, go out on the spare bike and commit to a race like that, I am really happy. 

"But, the main thing is to say get well soon to Loris Baz. There was an incident where I went to pass him but I hit his leg. His leg came out and I couldn’t really avoid it once I had committed to try to pass him. It was a real shame. 

"In the long race, I felt quite good, I got up to second position, feeling OK, then I started to have some inconsistency with the brakes. It caused me to run wide a little bit. Then we had the red flag. In the Superpole race, during the red flagged race, the bike was quite badly damaged. 

"I was not able to use the tyres from the Superpole red flag crash, as they were too badly damaged as well. I had to use the tyres from the start of the second race, and I had a few more laps on them than some of the other guys had on theirs. 

"I thought the best game plan was to sit behind the group, look after the tyres and try to come forward at the end. But I struggled a lot with front grip. When the grip is not there, we cannot ride the bike on the front. This is tough because I feel I am riding a lot better than our position shows. But that is racing and we will try again in Assen."

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