World Superbikes: Jonathan Rea keen to ‘move on’ after protest backlash
Jonathan Rea says ‘nothing has changed’ in his relationship with World Superbike title rival Toprak Razgatlioglu following Kawasaki’s protest against the Pata Yamaha rider at Magny-Cours in France.
Razgatlioglu edged a tight battle with Rea in the Superpole race, but the 24-year-old later received a one-place penalty for exceeding the track limits, with Rea declared the winner.
The infringement denied Razgatlioglu a maiden career hat-trick, although the Turkish rider still left round eight with a seven-point advantage at the top of the standings going into Saturday’s opening race at Catalunya in Barcelona (14:15 BST).
Six-time champion Rea was painted as the villain in the aftermath when he was shown whispering in crew chief Pere Riba’s ear, after calling him over in parc ferme following the Superpole race.
The footage was singled out and highlighted on the official World Superbike Twitter feed, which inferred that Rea had reported Razgatlioglu’s infringement and ultimately instigated the ensuing protest.
However, Kawasaki Racing’s team manager, Guim Roda, later revealed that it was a KRT hardware technician who spotted Razgatlioglu’s infraction and notified him about the incident.
The subsequent protest sparked something of a backlash against Kawasaki, while Razgatlioglu’s team boss Paul Denning suggested the ‘sporting atmosphere’ between the teams ‘might change’ as a result.
Ahead of this weekend’s ninth round of the series at Catalunya, which kick-starts a hectic run of three back-to-back race weekends for the first time since 1999, reigning champion Rea said he had ‘immense respect’ for Razgatlioglu and admitted he wasn’t a fan of the track limits rule.
“It’s clear what happened, everyone has made that clear,” said Rea.
“The only thing is that it wasn’t made clear before parc ferme, and that was the strange thing. It’s really disappointing that races are decided in this way, but when there’s a rulebook, we have to abide by that.
“I’m not a fan of this rule to be honest, it’s a really silly rule that penalises you, but it’s very clear and we all know on the last lap of a race, if you go on the green – we’ve seen it many times in Supersport 300 and Supersport, even in MotoGP – that you drop one position, advantage or no advantage,” he added.
“So, not a big fan of the rule and also with how things played out after Magny-Cours, but this is racing. We have to accept this, move on – new start.
“Magny-Cours was two weeks ago and I want to try and leave it there and focus on this weekend and the rest of our season.”
Rea said his attitude towards championship leader Razgatlioglu remains the same, although he warned he was willing to do what it takes to win the title for an unprecedented seventh successive season.
“Speaking about Toprak, I have immense respect for him from when he first joined the championship in Superstock; he’s really a great guy, great person and an incredible rival and he’s riding so strong,” said Rea.
“So far everything has been respectful, so nothing changes.
“On the track, I want to beat everybody, not just Toprak. I’ll go to war to do that and people will have their point of view, but at the end of the day this is me, and with my team we have a big goal and that’s to be world champion; we’ll do anything to get that done.”
Razgatlioglu was quickest overall in free practice on Friday, with Rea only 0.050s back.