Aragon MotoGP: Jonathan Rea seeks to slash gap to winner

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Jonathan Rea says he is more concerned about slashing the gap between himself and the race winner in Aragon tomorrow than he is about his final position at the end of the 23-lap clash.

The British rider ended qualifying in a brilliant seventh position and was just 0.169s off claiming a place on the second row after he impressed on Casey Stoner’s factory Honda RC213V 1000cc machine.

The World Superbike star clocked a best time of 1.50.410 to finish just 1.006s behind Jorge Lorenzo in pole position and he will start ahead of Misano runner-up Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden tomorrow.

Qualifying was the only dry session of a rain-hit weekend so far, and once Rea had built up his confidence he delivered a performance that underlined why HRC has called upon him to replace injured reigning world champion Stoner.

The Ten Kate Honda rider is now hoping he will finish tomorrow’s race closer to the winner than the 43 seconds he finished adrift of factory Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo.

He told MCN: “I’ll make a plan when the lights go out but I want to be closer than 43 seconds like in Misano. That’s my target. If that gets me ninth tomorrow but I’ve bridged the gap I’ll be happy.

“If it gets me fifth because I can race with some guys and learn something then great. I’ve got no target for position, I just want to be closer to the guys at the front and learn something. It would be nice to be involved in a race.

“In Misano I was three or four seconds behind Nicky and I got close but not close enough to race. It would be nice to be involved in a race and the 23-laps pass a bit quicker than in Misano.”

Rea said he was cautious at the start of qualifying not to get caught out by a cold tyre with temperatures 20 degrees cooler than when he tested the Repsol Honda RC213V at the Motorland Aragon earlier this month.

He added: “For me at the start of the session I wasn’t sure how to go. Coming from World Superbikes I always watch videos of cold tyre high-sides when changing direction and it felt a little bit on ice not knowing what the boundaries were.

“Slowly but surely I chipped away and at the end it was fine. I was riding a bit scared at the beginning because there was a wet patch in the change of direction between the first two corners but apart from that there was a dry line everywhere else.”

Rea said the recent test though had been a big help to him with so much track time lost to rain, just as had been the case when he made his MotoGP debut in Misano earlier this month.

He said “I didn’t have a goal and to be honest I just wanted to get closer and I was lucky with the test because we have a little bit of a race set-up with the bike here and I was able to concentrate more on just qualifying and putting a tyre in and trying to get the best out of it.

“The gap is always decreasing and I’ve no doubt with more time we can get closer, but for me today it is not a bad job and I am quite satisfied.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt