We sat down with Gino Rea on the Saturday of the Aragon World Superbike weekend to speak about his return to the Supersport class, his last-minute deal with PTR Honda and how he's able to ride with a broken foot.

Crash.net:
The Kawasakis and MVs have looked strong thus far. How are you finding the CBR600RR in comparison?

Gino Rea:
Obviously Australia was ok but I still wasn't confident with the bike. Then in Thailand we had a lot of problems. We had engine problems in the race so I was lucky to finish there. This weekend we've made more progress, especially with the electronics side of it and the traction control. We changed the strategy a little bit and turned it down so that I'm riding with my wrist more than electronics. It seems to suit me more, I get more feedback and I know what the bike is doing. We're improving in that area as well. I'm enjoying riding it more this weekend.

Crash.net:
What have you found most difficult when adapting to on the Supersport machine?

Gino Rea:
I'd say the biggest thing is probably the tyres, the tyres and the electronics. The electronics are not that hard to get used to. You just have to define it more for the rider. What the rider needs from the electronics. That's kind of what we're doing at the moment. It doesn't take me long to get my head around it really. It's just fine-tuning it from there.

Crash.net:
After three years in the MotoGP paddock do you feel happy to be back here?

Gino Rea:
Definitely. I won a race here in Supersport in 2011 and that's obviously where we want to be. We want to be at the front. It's not easy this year. You have the factory MV Agusta, the factory Kawasaki. The other factory Hondas as well. It's not going to be an easy year but I'm confident if we keep progressing like this we'll be able to mix it up at the front. It feels good to be back because it's frustrating when you feel like you're riding well on a bike that's not really capable of being at the front. You're a second off but you're 23rd. Them was a couple of frustrating years.

We had some good glimpses towards the end of last year. We started getting in the points and closing the gap towards the front but it took us so long to get there, it was nearly the end of the season before we were getting in the points. It's tough to take when you're trying your balls out and you haven't got the full package that allows you to be in the top five or the top ten. Here the packages are a lot closer, the Honda to the MV and Kawasaki. I'm able to have a good team around me, a good package around me that helps me get towards the front. Which is what makes you happy!

Crash.net:
Are you able to ride more freely when you know that if you have a bad day you may qualify ninth or tenth, whereas in Moto2 it would be 25th or lower?

Gino Rea:
In a way. It works both ways. Some people ask if there's more pressure because you come back to Supersport and people are expecting you to be at the front. Then it works the other way where I know I can be in the top ten even on a bad day. Ultimately the pressure don't really affect me. I just want to enjoy riding.

Crash.net:
The announcement that you were coming to World Supersport came quite late. How did the deal with PTR Honda come about?

Gino Rea:
Basically the week before we were about to go testing with Moto2 that's when I heard the news that things were looking a bit shaky with the team. The sponsors weren't committing to the money and that meant we weren't getting the full package together and we weren't going to be ready for the first test. The sponsor couldn't commit to the rest of the year. So I was like, 'I can't wait'. Simon [Buckmaster] from PTR gave me the option to come and ride for him. I jumped at the chance. I couldn't afford to wait any longer and to be left without a ride in Moto2. Then you don't have a ride in any other paddock. The same thing happened to me in 2013 and when the sponsor pulled out then it was too late. I had done the deal with ESGP and FTR but the sponsor pulled out, it was too late to look elsewhere so I ended up having to do the wildcards. Here I was fortunate to get a ride with CIA Landlords Insurance PTR team and I think it's been for the good.

Crash.net:
I guess mentally there are only so many years you can spend when you're not competing for the win?

Gino Rea:
As I said the sponsor not committing wasn't the only reason for coming. When I was offered the ride I knew I would be able to be at the front and fighting for podiums. Like you said you can only do so many years banging your head against the wall. The frustrating thing is that I know I'm capable of being at the front of Moto2 if I had the right bike and team around me. I battled week in week out with Sam Lowes in Supersport and now look what he's doing in Moto2. Now that he's confident with the bike. That's what it's all about, being confident in the bike and the team around you. After so many years banging your head against the wall now is the time to come back and start putting my name at the front.

Crash.net:
You broke your foot at the close of 2014 then had some complications when in Australia at the start of this year. I made the mistake of looking at the photo of your foot at Phillip Island while eating lunch...

Gino Rea:
If you want you can see the x-ray from Thursday. It's not much better!

Crash.net:
I imagine that limits the movement on the bike...

Gino Rea:
Not so much difficulty because the swelling has gone down. The boot I'm using is really good. There's a lot of protection around it and it's one size bigger than I normally use. That's not too much of an issue. It is still pretty broken. I had an x-ray on Thursday and there's still quite a big gap. Actually because we had the screw removed in Phillip Island it's weakened the plate. The plate has bent and I've got a little lump in my foot because of that. Then the bone is just not healing. One, I'm using it. I'm having to keep up my training between races to stay fit and then I'm riding. Then there's a screw missing from the plate. It's not healing as fast as it should do.

In Australia they gave me the option to have a bone draft but I didn't want to miss any racing in the first part of the season. I'm in the same position now. I can go and have a bone graft and miss one or two races. Or I can stick it out, try and let it heal and wait until the end of the season for the operation. It's still broke but I'm able to ride. It's not ideal. I'm still having to use my upper body a bit more in places where you change direction and you really need to use your right foot.
But it's not the end of the world. Put it this way, when the screw was sticking out at the test at Phillip Island on the Monday it was excruciating. I wouldn't have been able to race like that. With this I'm not even on painkillers. I just can't go running!

Crash.net:
Has this forced you into altering your training regime?

Gino Rea:
Running has never been a big part of my training. I have to balance what I'm doing. I do more work in the swimming pool and stuff that isn't impacting the foot.

Crash.net:
You scored a phenomenal result in Phillip Island. Did you surprise yourself with that?

Gino Rea:
I little bit. To be honest we had quite a good pace the whole weekend. The track suited our bike. Still, I wasn't expecting to come out on the podium, especially after the operation on Tuesday. That was a great way to start but Thailand was frustrating because of issues out of my control.

Crash.net:
What is your approach for 2015? Are your eyes on getting inside the top three in the championship?

Gino Rea:
I'm thinking more long-term. In the overall championship I want to be there in the top three ideally mid-season. At the same time I want to prove that I can win races but I'm not going to take stupid risks to win races because the competition is so stiff at the front we're up against good riders, bikes and teams. Obviously if the opportunity presents itself for me to win I'm going to take that gamble. [But] I do want to think long term and about that consistency so I can be there in the championship.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...