Tooting-born rider Gino Rea produced a 16th and 17th place finish in round six of the British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch last weekend, writes Giles Spencer.
With Lambeth’s Shane Byrne still out following his serious crash, it was up to Rea to fly the flag for South London.
Rea has no real experience of the Kent track but managed to make it into the next round of qualifying, putting in his best ever time of 1:26.084 to secure his OMG Racing Suzuki 16th spot on the grid.
The first race of the day saw Rea tantilisingly close to the points, finishing in 16th place and safely ahead of Isle of Man TT winner, Dean Harrison.
The second race saw a strong start from Rea, lofting the front wheel of his Suzuki up to the first corner of Paddock Hill Bend, gaining three places from his starting position as they crossed the line for the second time of asking.
Ten laps in and Rea was battling with 2018 race winner Bradley Ray for the final point before the Honda Racing machine of Jason O’Halloran passed the pair to spoil the party.
Rea was nearly seven seconds closer to the winner than in race one.
He said: “We had a quite strong qualifying. The progress we made throughout Friday and Saturday was quite substantial. I’ve never ridden around here on a superbike and we’re starting from zero with out setup.
“The first race was really tough. We tried a few different things [on the bike], not massive changes but they affected us quite a bit. The pace wasn’t so bad at the start but we’ve been struggling with the bike wheelieing everywhere at the start of the race, especially at this track as none of the straights are flat.
“For the second race we made quite a big change to the chassis set-up to try and calm the bike down a little bit so I could be a bit more consistent – that worked.
“The position didn’t reflect the improvements we made.” said Rea.
For a time, it looked like Gino may even overtake the factory Suzuki of Bradley Ray.
“I got right on the back of him and there were certain points I was faster. My bike started getting out of shape and I couldn’t quite get close enough to pass. I made one little mistake and he pulled a bit of a gap.
“There are positives to take from this. Improving by seven seconds is quite a big chunk from one race to another.”
Round seven of the championship takes place at Thruxton, Hampshire from August 3-5.
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