Jonathan Rea took his Kawasaki Racing Team Ninja ZX-10RR to a strong and determined second place at Motorland Aragon in the opening race of the weekend. His team-mate Leon Haslam feels he opted for the wrong rear tyre choice and finished in ninth place as a result.
A busy and sometimes dramatic day for the KRT duo of Rea and Haslam saw them complete the final free practice session this morning in third and seventh places respectively. In Tissot Superpole, to determine grid places for today’s race, both riders qualified below their expected best. Rea was tenth and Haslam 12th on the grid.
A mix up in pitlane exit timings, and then Rea running wide with a qualifying tyre fitted, meant he had to rely on an earlier lap time for his Superpole best, putting him on the fourth row.
Four-time champion Rea brought all his considerable powers to bear in the race and was up to second by lap four. He fought off multiple challenges from Chaz Davies and Alex Lowes to record his seventh consecutive second place of the season.
Today Rea reached the landmark of 250 career race starts in WorldSBK, placing him fifth in the all time rankings.
Haslam had difficulties stopping his bike at times today, which affected his outright lap times, and he started the first 18-lap race from 12th place after Superpole. In cool but dry conditions he found he had not made the best possible tyre choice and battled with two other Kawasaki riders to finish ninth.
There will now be two more WorldSBK contests at Motorland on Sunday the seventh of April; a ten lap Tissot Superpole race and then a final 18-lap full distance race to be held in the same 14.00hrs slot as today’s opener in Spain. With these two Motorland Aragon races still to go Rea is currently second overall on 118 points, with Haslam fifth on 58 points.
Jonathan Rea: “The race position today could not be any better and we achieved the maximum, even from tenth place on the grid. It was an eventful race for me and very exciting, with a lot of passes. All in all, we are very happy with the points and being on the podium, but still a little bit disappointed and bemused by the gap to the front, which is too big. In Superpole we made some mistakes as a team, both myself and the guys, from a time management side. We planned for two laps on the qualifying tyre but I was released a little bit too late then I made a mistake on my first lap and sat up in sector one, thinking to conserve the tyre for one last effort. But, when I came across the line, I realised my Superpole lap time was from the race tyre in the earlier laps.”
Leon Haslam: “We have been struggling to get the bike to stop and I think I chose the wrong tyre for the race, the hard one. We knew that it was a good 0.6 or 0.7 per lap slower initially but I have not had the laps to do a race run on a soft one. With the temperatures being cool we did not go for it – and it looks like everyone else did. So there was a little bit of a mistake there and I think it cost me a lot. I got a real bad initial start. I think my pace after that wasn’t that bad, even though I was on the harder tyre and it was maybe enough to battle with that group fighting for fifth, that sort of area. We need to re-think things for tomorrow.”