Jonathan Rea declared himself satisfied to finish his second MotoGP appearance in seventh position at the Motorland Aragon yesterday, but admitted his inexperience with the level of sophisticated electronics had prevented him from challenging for the top six.
Rea finished in a lonely seventh but after finishing 43 seconds behind race winner Jorge Lorenzo in Misano, he was happy to have reduced the gap in Aragon to 32 seconds behind victorious Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa.
Rea said his second appearance as Casey Stoner’s injury replacement had given him the chance to build up his experience on the RC213V, but understanding how to get the best out of the electronics was still the biggest area in which he has to improve in the future.
He told MCN: “I need to work more on understanding the electronics when the tyre goes off. For me I was riding a lot against the traction control and it was slowing the bike down too much.
"With the torque of the bike I need to look at how to maximise the exit of the corner because for me I was trying to remain inside the wall of traction control.
"If you see the styles of the other guys riding the Honda they are spinning the bike at the apex quite hard, picking it up and accelerating out. I’d need to work on that if I came back.
"Electronically these bikes are so advanced and that’s the area where I have got a lot to learn because our system we use in superbike is nowhere near the level of this.
"That’s where we need to pull our socks up over there, but I am glad I know this because now we can improve for 2013 with my team.”
Rea experimented a lot with traction control in the 23-lap race and he admitted he had got a bit confused, with the strategy required in MotoGP the complete opposite to what he used to in World Superbikes on the Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR.
He told MCN: “In World Superbikes during a race normally I would flip the traction control to have more control.
"You are trying to save the tyre for the end of the race but in MotoGP it works the opposite way where you have to reduce the traction control more and let the bike spin more because the engine is slowing the bike down too much.
"Around halfway distance I took a lot of traction control off the bike, but then I was sliding around too much so I put it back on and then I thought I’m going no faster so I just took it off and let it spin.
"In the end I finished the race on a low setting but it is the opposite way to superbike and it was hard to get it into my head. I was confused because I knew what way I should go but the lap time difference wasn’t a lot and I didn't understand if it was better or worse.
"My race was a bit inconsistent and sometimes I would miss the apex or run wide but it was because I was trying different things with my style to learn.”
Rea said the biggest difference between the RC213V and the CBR1000RR was the level of electronic control and he added: “Electronically in MotoGP the possibilities are endless and with all the wet sessions I’ve not been able to fully understand exactly what happens when the tyre really goes down.
"In qualifying in Misano and here you don’t have time to put 20 laps on a tyre to understand what the traction control is doing while you are fighting for a grid position. I have a lot to learn.
"You can see with our strategy in superbike that with a system that isn’t that sophisticated I can still be quite competitive. But here the electronics is a huge part because you have such a strong engine that you need electronics to be able to finish the race otherwise you have no grip left on the tyre.
"You can’t teach this without doing race distance and if I was to do it again I’d spend a lot more time on old tyres.”
Rea finished just over four seconds behind Gresini Honda rider Alvaro Bautista but said he never felt like he was going to close down on the Spaniard to battle for his first top six in the premier class.
He added: “To take that amount off him with four laps to go it is not really realistic. During the race I exhausted all the options with electronics. I was playing a lot with traction control settings and mapping and engine brake changes and to be honest it got to the point where I was confused and I had to just open the throttle and do my best.
"It was one of those things that a race can teach you when the tyre grip and fuel load drops down. For a huge part of the race I was confused whether I was doing the right things with the buttons but it is another top 10 position. The gap was closing to Alvaro but I was content where I was to bring it home.”
For more exclusive thoughts from Rea, see the October 3 issue of MCN.