While racing in Honda colours, Jonathan Rea was forced to solve various headscratchers. Before getting to where he is now, the six-time SBK champion - who has won all his titles with Kawasaki - found himself struggling a little in the early years. And sometimes more than a little.
When dealing with the CBR’s lack of speed along the straight for example. The number 65 Fireblade had trouble on short straights like Kyalami, let alone the ‘highways’ of Monza. And it was at the Italian track that the northern Irishman suffered one of his worst race weekends of all.
A double zero, an unacceptable result for anyone on the grid, but even more so for a factory rider. But on 9 May 2010, in addition to not earning any points, the Hannspree Ten Kate rider also suffered a fall through the Parabolic. Fortunately, he was unhurt in the incident and the public’s laughter, as well as extinguishing the fear, also revealed another detail.
Rea crashed, stood up and appeared to say: "Um, where are you?"
Johnny was fighting hard at the front. Race 1 (which took place on Sunday back then) was proving to be a real battle between Max Biaggi on the Aprilia, James Toseland and Cal Crutchlow on the Yamahas and Leon Haslam on the Suzuki. The Ten Kate CBR was doing ok, because it was able to stick with its rivals.
This was also thanks to Johnny’s extreme braking, often over the limit, and then came the mistake. At the end of lap four, perhaps running a little wider than he had on previous laps, the Fireblade’s tyres suddenly lost traction.
In fact, everything lost traction, the front locked and Rea entered into a high-speed slide. Having scraped the asphalt, both bike and rider rolled repeatedly in the gravel. Fortunately, the future King of SBK got up but he remained disorientated. Wanting to get back in the saddle, Rea looked around for his CBR but there was no sign of it, as it had gone over the barriers. Only the public, the marshals and the TV cameras noted what had happened.
Biaggi’s double, and subsequent title
While Rea failed to score any points, Biaggi took a double 25, winning both races. The number 3 rider was good, but the RSV4 was phenomenal, perfectly balanced to perform through both the fast sections - the straights, the Biassono turn and at least half of the Parabolica - and the slow chicanes, like turn one and the Roggia.
But the Italian even flew through Ascari, making a real difference there. In the morning, he took to the top step of the rostrum just above Toseland and Crutchlow. In the afternoon, he was joined by Haslam and Troy Corser. And those two bricks contributed to what was became his second WorldSBK title.
Translated by Heather Watson