BY GILES SPENCER
Gino Rea had two point-scoring rides in round 10 of the British Superbike Championship, despite mixed fortunes at a weather-beaten Oulton Park.
Carrying on his form from Silverstone a week earlier, the Tooting man once again made it through to the second round of qualifying to put the OMG Racing UK Suzuki in a solid 14th place on the grid in tricky conditions on a drying track with a 136:142 lap.
After taking seventh position in the damp morning warm-up, the heavens opened for race one, changing the track conditions yet again.
A good start saw Rea take a place for 13th over the line to end the first lap.
Dropping a place to a surprisingly quick Fraser Rogers on the Gearlink Kawasaki, Rea struggled to find his previous pace for several laps before settling into his rhythm and start closing the gap on the young Swindon rider.
The Buildbase Suzuki of Richard Cooper took the pair on lap 11 of 16 as Rea struggled for clear vision in the spray, followed a lap later by the Be Wiser Ducati of championship contender, Glenn Irwin, who started from pit-lane after a problem on the starting grid.
Rea finally retook Rogers on the penultimate lap with his 14th place banking two points. His fastest time of 1:40.047, set on the final lap, put him 15th on the grid for race two.
The sun came out for race two and with a drying line appearing on the track Rea went out on slick tyres but still had to be careful not to stray off line onto the wet sections.
A nightmare start saw the Superbike rookie swallowed up by the pack, dropping quickly to 20th before things got even worse when Tom Neave on the Movuno.com Halsall Racing Suzuki hit the deck in front of him on the exit to Hizzy’s chicane, leaving the Suzuki racer nowhere to go but onto the grass, losing five seconds to the riders in front of him.
The tricky conditions played into Rea’s hands as a number of riders went down as the 28-year-old took the flag for another 14th place and two more points.
Rea said: “Oulton’s a rollercoaster track and that’s how our weekend went. There are more positives than last time we came here.
“I was competitive in the wet and the dry, being top six or seven. We made a few improvements to our set-up on the Friday and Saturday.
“We made a few changes to the electronics on Sunday morning and I wasn’t happy in the warm-up; I really struggled even though I finished seventh. That carried over into the first wet race, which is a real shame as I wanted to capitalise on the position and thought I’d be able to put it up into the top five.
“I got water onto the front of my visor every time I was in a group that made overtaking difficult. It was like putting your head under water and opening your eyes.
“I wasn’t our day. I got a couple of points but it wasn’t what I was capable of.
“The second race we made a couple of changes to our dry set-up that didn’t work. I messed up the start and got caught up in [Neave’s] crash and ran off the track, so it was nice to come away with a couple of points after a situation like that.”
The next round is at Assen on September 28-30. It is a track Rea knows well from his World Championship days.
“It would be nice to get back into the top 10. We’ve had half-decent qualifying at the last two rounds, but we just need to break into the top three rows on the grid to enable me to get away with the faster group at the start.
“We need to get the bike set-up as quick as we can and try not to change too much on race day.
“It’s a long, fast circuit that normally produces close racing so being able to do fast times late in the race is really key too.”
Point-scoring rides from the last five races have kept Rea 19th in the championship.
Pics by Ian Hopgood
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.