Rea reduced Alvaro Bautista’s title lead from 36 to 17 points in the process, but it was truly a ‘glass half full’ scenario, having been unable to prevent Toprak Razgatlioglu from securing three wins, while Bautista made a late pass to snatch second in the final outing.
The UK heatwave seemed to unsettle Rea’s ZX-10RR more than the competing machines, causing big shifts in weight balance throughout the weekend. But it wasn’t enough to tie defending champion Razgatlioglu, who took the lead into the first corner of all three outings and led every lap of the race.
While Razgatlioglu faded into the distance in the first race on Saturday, Rea felt only a lack of experience with the SCX tire prevented a stronger challenge to star Yamaha in the 10-lap Superpole race on Sunday morning.
“We used this SCQ tire for the first time. I was pretty confident the tire would be good, just that I thought Toprak’s early pace was going to crush the tire, so I was actually quite conservative in the first two laps,” he explained.
“That’s where he did damage. He managed to gain a second and a half. Then from lap 4 to lap 8 I felt the same more or less strongly and we crossed the line not too far one of the other.
But the third and final race saw the biggest battle, with Rea stalking Razgatlioglu for the first half of the 23 laps, only to have the Turkish rider respond instantly to every pass.
Rea was so close to Razgatlioglu that his throat went dry from the R1’s exhaust, but the fierce close combat also baked his front brakes.
“I felt really good for half the race, I was able to understand where I was good and where I needed to improve. But I really overcooked the front brakes,” said Rea.
“Donington is one of the hardest tracks on the brakes, especially that last section where I was struggling.
“It also didn’t help that I was really in Toprak’s slipstream, right on his rear tire, in fact my throat started to get really dry because I was on exhausted fumes for most of the first half of the race.
“So I wasn’t cooling my disc and I’m sure if we checked the data it would be record breaking because all the brake power was going down pretty quickly.
“I went into the Melbourne Loop twice and the lever came straight back to the bar. It was all my power not to hit Toprak sometimes, so I had to take some time to calm down a bit.
But there was no time to rest with Bautista closing within striking range.
“Alvaro came in with a really strong pace so unfortunately he got away with it and that was all I could do just to keep my pace and finish on the podium,” said Rea.
“Rinaldi was right behind me and Bassani was in the top seven, so the Ducati is working well, [but] we know what a solid package it is, so we just focus on ourselves.
“Alvaro did a good job today and I feel like I got the bigger picture. We did a decent job as well.”
Rea: “The overview is OK, but still frustrating not to win”
“I’m happy with the weekend, going out with 2-2-3 is strong. Yesterday we were lucky to receive a small gift with points [from Bautista’s fall]which halved the championship deficit this weekend,” said the six-time world champion.
“So the big picture is OK, but still frustrating not to win. I really wanted to win here, but you never know what to expect.
“I knew it was going to be difficult because Toprak is very strong here. Also Yamaha in the past, van der Mark was fast here.
“It wasn’t worse than expected, but I wanted to win. So I’m disappointed, but I feel like we got the best out of what we could and that’s our reality right now.
“We also made some good changes to the bike from yesterday to today. I feel like we are still learning a bit about the bike in the hot weather, that was really a weak point for us and I think now we can be happy.
“Especially after Misano, I felt much closer here and it’s encouraging to go to Most and see what we can do there.
“I feel like I have some business to take care of there because last year was a tough weekend for me and the bike, but it was also the first time we visited the track.
“This year we will have at least some data, although I know it has surfaced on a good part of the circuit.
“It’s a fun track, like Estoril. The first time I visited Estoril I was not very good, the next time we went back we won races. So it would be amazing if we could go there, win races before the summer break.
“And the championship is really tight. All three guys are tight this weekend.
Razgatlioglu is now 43 points off the top with seven innings and 21 races remaining.
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