“Ducati-Bautista package racing in another championship”, Rea, Toprak ‘helpless’

Pere Riba, crew chief to six-time WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea, wants quicker changes to be made in order to have a more balanced championship.
Alvaro Bautista, Jonathan Rea, Toprak Razgatlioglu WorldSBK Assen 2023
Alvaro Bautista, Jonathan Rea, Toprak Razgatlioglu WorldSBK Assen 2023

Part of a team that won six WorldSBK titles in succession which led to complaints of Kawasaki possessing an advantage over its competition, Riba and Rea are now facing a situation where Yamaha, and in particular Ducati have stretched ahead.

While the Yamaha and Kawasaki were very even in terms of pace in 2021, Toprak Razgatlioglu made the difference against Rea in order to become the first rider to beat the Northern Irishman to the title since he joined Kawasaki in 2015.

Last year saw another rider achieve that feat as Alvaro Bautista delivered Ducati their first Superbike title since 2011.

But all this has happened after Kawasaki were docked 1400 revs in 2018, however, Rea continued winning the championship for another two seasons.

Ducati, who held a significant advantage in terms of rev limit after that change, were recently docked 250 revs, but like Kawasaki in the immediate aftermath of their rpm loss, it has seemingly not made a difference.

Speaking to Corsedimoto.com, Riba said he wants WorldSBK to become more competitive so long as it’s done the right way.

"No, I totally agree: trying to level the competitiveness of the Superbikes is the right way forward. What I don't like is the way this balance is handled. 

"We need more dynamism, understanding of technique and intervening immediately. They can't wait two years to change things, because the races go on and the ones we see now aren't as good as they could be. That's my point of view."

While it’s clear that Riba wants Kawasaki back at the top of Superbike from a personal point of view, the Spanish crew chief couldn’t help but admire the performance that’s being shown by Ducati and Bautista, at present. 

"Ducati has done a great job, they have designed an incredible road Superbike," added Riba. "They also put a rider on it who is riding it in an equally incredible way right now. 

"The Ducati-Bautista package is on another level, they're racing in another championship. This is the fact. Today the balance should be ensured by the "concession points" mechanism but it does not work. The solution would be to intervene to really balance."

Since Buatista and Ducati’s dominance began to show itself midway through last season - has continued in 2023 to an ever greater extent - Rea and Razgatlioglu have said on multiple occasions that the chances of winning are very low, despite riding better than ever.

Riba believes both riders can challenge Bautista, but that they’re starting each race weekend with ‘zero chance’ due to the performance of the Ducati. 

Riba said: "Jonathan Rea is like a son to me, but I'm also sorry for Toprak Razgatlioglu, another great champion. It's not nice to see them so helpless. 

"At least they have the same qualities as Alvaro, but at the very least… But right now they're starting with zero chance of winning. 

"Can you imagine how difficult it is for them, mentally? I speak for Jonathan, but I think Toprak is also in the same condition."

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