Jonathan Rea has said having no expectations of the result he can achieve in his MotoGP debut at Misano has helped take the pressure off him after the British rider impressively qualified inside the top 10 earlier today.
Rea, who is replacing injured reigning world champion Casey Stoner, will start tomorrow’s 28-lap race from ninth on the grid after he set a best time of 1.35.358 in the only dry session of the weekend so far.
Rea’s competitive debut for Repsol Honda had been blighted by intermittent rain showers but the Ten Kate Honda World Superbike regular’s best time was only 1.501s behind team-mate Dani Pedrosa.
Rea finished ahead of Nicky Hayden, Karel Abraham and Hector Barbera and he was only 0.370s behind the factory Yamaha of Ben Spies.
Asked by MCN whether he had exceeded his own expectations after such little time on a dry track, Rea said: “I think what has helped and it is not bulls*** but I came with zero expectation. I didn’t know where I was going to fit in to be honest and I didn’t want to go and ride round at the back and get smoked by CRT bikes but I didn’t expect to be mixing it with some of the prototypes. I’ve still got no expectation for tomorrow’s race and that’s why I’ve been able to grow step by step because I’m not putting pressure on myself. On Twitter some people have been saying about a podium but this is MotoGP and it is stupid to think about that. I just came in and be very quiet about the job and to try and get as much information to the crew as I can and they translate it and try and improve the bike.”
Rea said he is still not confident enough to push the RC213V at 100% but he is slowly but surely adapting himself to the HRC prototype.
He said: “With qualifying being dry I thought it was going to be very hard to step up and do my best but I have to be satisfied with ninth on the grid and the third row. Things could have gone a lot worse and even though I was under prepared I feel I did a good job with the limit still quite far away. On the data it looks like I’ve picked up a bit of corner speed and more connection with the throttle and I am getting more confident. I’ve still got to work on braking earlier and releasing the brake earlier. I still don’t have the confidence to push at 100% so I can’t push for a lap time, so for me it was just learning. The problem for me is the dive speed is a little fast so we put a harder front spring in the front but then I brake even harder and have the same problem. My braking style has to be a bit more progressive at the beginning, so I just tried to learn as much as I could.”