Jonathan Rea: “We’re really lost. I don’t have confidence to push”

Jonathan Rea says issues with chatter and rear vibration remain after a very challenging Saturday at Phillip Island.

Jonathan Rea, Race 1, Australian WorldSBK, 24 February
Jonathan Rea, Race 1, Australian WorldSBK, 24 February

A dismal day-one got even worse for Jonathan Rea on the opening raceday of the 2024 WorldSBK season.

After a poor qualifying which left him stranded in the midfield, Rea struggled to make any meaningful progress before losing out at the mandatory pit stop sequence. 

The six-time WorldSBK champion came out of the pits battling with Alvaro Bautista, who had previously crashed at turn ten.

The pair re-joined the action in 17th and 18th before Bautista pulled clear of Rea, who suffered one of his worst races as a Superbike rider.

“It was really difficult from when the lights went out as I got a bad start,” began Rea. “Made some good headway in turns one and two, got back some track position and then was fighting with Domi [Aegerter] at one point and Van Der Mark.

“I decided to pit at the earliest moment and then we just had a small issue that prohibited me from exiting on track. 

“I existed with Bautista and could ride with him for a few laps at his rhythm, but the four or five laps started making some mistakes. 

“I struggled passing Rabat as well. Once I cleared him and could do my lines I found some more rhythm. But it’s frustrating. We can’t catch a break from Portimao to here we have had a few curve balls thrown our way.

“But we’re still here showing up and tomorrow we have to try a set-up change because I’m really not happy with the bike, the way the bike is handling; it’s knocking some confidence out of me.

“We know WorldSBK is so competitive so you need the bike to work but also to feel comfortable on the bike to push.

“I feel like I’m just riding and managing but that’s not enough to trouble the top ten.”

When starting further down the field Rea has always been able to cut his way through the field brilliantly.

But there were no signs of that during Race 1 even before his pit stop issues, and the former Kawasaki rider was clear as to why.

Rea said: “Honestly, we’re lost. We’re really lost. We need to try and fix the issues we’ve been having. Hard to say I’m confident right now. 

“I know that when I feel good with the bike like I did in Jerez, and at times in Portimao, I can fly.

“It’s more a case of exercising patience and we know we have a lot of potential ahead of us. It’s a bit like surfing, we’re waiting for that perfect wave but it’s not coming. But I’m sure it will soon.

“The biggest issue here is chatter and rear vibration with the bike on the bumps. We have tried a lot, we’ve tried to take a lot of grip out of the bike.

“We’ve almost exercised every option but while that remains there I don’t have the confidence to push.”

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