WSB: Jonathan Rea's Laguna column
I don’t know what it is with Laguna. I missed the first time we went back there due to injury and then I came back the following year and was on the podium. It’s a track I really enjoy; all the big hitters are really strong there so it was always going to be a good race.
We were strong throughout practice. It seemed like everyone caught up throughout the weekend, especially on Saturday morning. I was confident we could still fight with everyone in the race but with five laps to go in race one I had zero entry traction and it was really hard to take the same risks to follow through on Chaz. Even if I had thrown caution to the wind and got on to the back of him, with the way he was riding he would have been very hard to pass. Credit to him, to come back from where he’s been in the past few weeks after the crash at Misano is no mean feat. I was happy to see him at the track after our accident, so to take the win and show no ill effects of the injury and being sat on the couch for two weeks is rather impressive!
It meant we had to work for it come Sunday! I gave some good feedback to the crew and Pere made a substantial change to the bike and went out in morning warm-up and lap by lap our consistency was incredible. I didn’t know whether to put that down to the lower track temperatures of morning warm-up, but as soon as I got through to second place at the end of lap one, Tom had a small gap and I managed to reel him in within a few corners so I knew the bike was working in the hotter conditions too.
With tyre degradation it’s always hard to control a race. The harder you push in the beginning the more you’re punished in the end. When I got to the front, I didn’t know how hard to push but my mechanics had put a little message on my dashboard saying ‘just do it’ so when I went through on Tom I said to myself ‘let’s go’ and put my head down. I was just opening up a gap, two to three tenths a lap and then he made a mistake and it went to 1.5 seconds and I chipped away from there.
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I couldn’t believe the way in which the win came. The day before I felt like I had to fight a lot harder and finished second. Days when things are going like clockwork don’t happen very often so I’ll gladly take it when they do.
At this exact point last year I had 71 points and after the technical at Laguna, then the crash in Lausitzring with a false neutral my lead was down to 26 points. You can never be too far in front! It’s still wide open, especially riding with Tom and Chaz. I don’t feel I’m dominating this championship like people are talking about, guys like Tom and Chaz are super strong and on their day the hardest guys in the world to beat. For Chaz it’ll be a real longshot as he’s so many points back now, so Tom seems to be my most direct competitor now. We need to be aware of what he’s doing. We’ve finished in front of Tom every race apart from Donington when my tyre went and Misano where Chaz and I went down, so I will take some confidence from that.
There are some circuits coming up I really enjoy, I’m looking forward to the Portimao round and also enjoy Magny Cours and Jerez. I’d like to tie the championship up before the last round as when it comes to the last race it gets stressful!
I’m looking forward to a couple of weeks off although we’ve got a test at Lausitzring in a couple of weeks’ time as last year we got handed our asses there by Chaz and Ducati. We can try and get a good base set-up for that track.