The Prosecco DOC UK Round saw the ‘Titanic Trio’ of the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship renew their rivalry in the early stages, with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) at the thick of the action. After being relegated to third place by his rivals, the 36-year-old held on to third place in the closing stages of Race 1 and resisted constant pressure from behind to take a 250th podium, the first rider in WorldSBK to achieve it.
RACE STORY: podium the target, podium the outcome
Rea started from his third straight Donington Park pole position and despite a good start, Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) snatched the holeshot into Turn 1. The home-hero was hot on his heels though and on Lap 2, forced a mistake from Bautista, with the Spaniard getting loose in the braking area for the Foggy Esses. He zipped on through and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) took advantage too. It was then a paint-swapping match between all three of them, particularly into Turns 4 and 5, as well as Turns 9 and 11; you can enjoy the full battle here. Rea held on to third place, after a late charge by top Independent rider Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team), who was chasing his first podium.
IN HIS OWN WORDS: “I tried to keep a basic rhythm”
Talking about the race and being in the battle, Rea said: “Race 1 was solid, that’s about as positive as I can be. I made a good start but the bike wheelied a little bit and I lose track position. When I got to the front of the race, I tried to keep a basic rhythm as I had no idea about the tyre consumption and I was trying to ride. Then Toprak and Alvaro came through; Alvaro had so much grip in acceleration and I then I thought I could only race with Toprak today. Then, even Toprak started going away. There was a point in the race when I thought I was going to struggle but then in the last part, when I was under pressure from Danilo, I found some rhythm by slowing down my brake points and not making mistakes, which seemed faster.”
Speaking about his plan for Sunday, the six-time World Champion was clear that a step in stopping the bike on the side of the tyre would help him hit his markers: “Tomorrow, we just need more trail braking, to be able to stop the bike on the side of the tyre. As soon as I brake too late, there’s so much grip from the rear that it pushed me into the corner and I miss it. A few areas to improve but the podium was my target.”
250 PODIUMS – the first rider in history: “I’ve enjoyed each and every one!”
However, it was a 250th podium from Rea that served as one of the big take-aways from the opening duel at Donington Park. Rea first mounted the WorldSBK podium way back in 2009, at Kyalami with third in Race 2. That was back in his Honda days, and he racked-up an impressive 42 in total by the end of spell with the Japanese brand. Since moving to Kawasaki though, it’s been all about re-writing history, and the 250th podium is the latest chapter in an illustrious story. His nearest rival behind the 250 is Troy Corser on 130, whilst the nearest active rival is the Ulsterman’s arch-rival but good friend Toprak Razgatlioglu, who is on 97 and can be on 99 if things go his way on Sunday in the UK.
Speaking of the achievement, it came as a surprise to the #65 but he was happy with his achievements in what is his 14th full-season of action: “It’s incredible! It makes me feel very proud and very old! To hang around for 250 podiums is a long time in my career but I’ve found an amazing home in WorldSBK and I’ve enjoyed each and every podium. Each one has a great story, so long may it continue!”