Rea finishes just off the podium in Donington superbike thriller

By Giles Spencer

Gino Rea was on fire in the wet changing weather at Donington Park at the weekend, taking fourth, fifth and sixth place finishes in the British Superbike Championship.

Due to the weather conditions at the weekend, qualifying was cancelled for the races with grid positions determined by the fastest times in practice. This put Rea 13th on the grid for the first race.

With race one taking place in damp, tricky conditions, Tooting born Rea kept a cool head to muscle his Suzuki GSX-R1000 around the Derbyshire track to a season best sixth place by the chequered flag.

With a dry track for race 2, Rea showed he was fast in all conditions, storming into the lead before eventually dropping back down to fourth place, only 3.123 seconds off the win.

The weather conditions for race 3 were the best of the weekend but that didn’t prevent Rea losing a place from sixth to seventh in the hustle of the first lap.

By lap 3, Rea started to close in Tarran MacKenzie ahead, who in turn took the Ducati of Christian Iddon as he made his way to the front of the pack.

Although Rea can match Iddon, he just couldn’t seem to find the extra speed to pass him.

Seven laps down and the Ducati of Tommy Bridewell retired from 2nd place with a clutch problem, promoting Rea up to sixth.

Only two laps later and Rea moves up to fifth ahead of Jason O’Halloran’s Yamaha R1, still with Iddon just ahead of him.

Rea is riding with a new found confidence in the bike after his best BSB result in the previous race and it shows.

Three laps of fifteen to go and the Kawasaki of Lee Jackson and Honda mounted Andrew Irwin have brought their lap times down to move up to the back wheel of Rea who shows he won’t be beaten easily by upping his pace to match them.

Last lap time and despite the best efforts of the two riders behind him, Rea holds on to take another great result in fifth place to round off an excellent weekend for the South Londoner and his Buildbase Suzuki team.

“It was a pretty special day. I didn’t really expect to be that close to a podium finish at the start of the day” said Rea.

“Yesterday (Saturday) when the race was cancelled I was really disappointed as I wanted a wet race to try and get a good result.

“The first race this morning, we made a good choice to go with the intermediate rear tyre and we were only one of a few.

“It was really difficult at the start of the race but it came to it’s own at the end and we had a good result in P6 and that put me in sixth for the start of the dry race (race 2).

“I didn’t really know what to expect as I’ve only had one dry session here on a Suzuki, which was Friday morning. Most of the other riders have been here in the dry at the start of the year.

“I got off to a good start. When I was in second, I really wanted to try and lead. I had the pace behind (Jack) Kennedy so I overtook him and led for a few laps and just tried to ride my own race and hit my markers and see what happened.

“Brooks came past me and I tried to hang on to him. My bike was a little difficult to ride but had a pretty good pace and ended up fourth, just off the podium which was obviously very very positive and definitely didn’t expect to be that close to the podium.

“We’ve made really good progress with the bike over the last few rounds and we’re steadily getting better and better with the race pace.

“We made another change for race 3 and the bike was better but I didn’t get off to quite as good of a start and stuck behind the Ducati of Iddon and basically couldn’t get past him the whole race.

“A bit frustrating as the bike was better and if I’d started a bit higher up with the front group I think I could’ve gone with the top three and battled with them. Also, if we had the set-up in race 2 that we had in race 3, I think we’d have been on the podium.

“It was really good to sniff the champagne and credit to the team and thanks to them for keeping me on and believing in me and giving me a bike that I feel confident and capable on getting those kind of results.

” Let’s see what the weather does at Brands.”

Rea now sits on 70 points, 13th in the championship.

The final rounds 16-18 are on the Brands Hatch GP circuit on the 16-18 October.

Photos by Steve Thomas at Double Red, Impact Images and Bonnie Lane

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