Jonathan Rea ‘tries to forget’ Alavaro Bautista controversy as Kawasaki rider targets first World Superbike victory since May

Bautista accused the Northern Irish driver of deliberately making contact in race three at the previous round at Magny-Cours in France, which caused him to crash.

Rea received a long lap penalty for irresponsible driving after the incident and finished fifth, while Bautista’s advantage at the top was reduced to 30 points by defending champion Toprak Razgatlioglu on the Pata Yamaha, who won the race to secure a double.

Bautista’s Ducati team also strongly criticized Rea afterwards, with technical director Marco Zambenedetti accusing the six-time champion of a “dangerous maneuver” and saying that Kawasaki should “focus on working inside and giving his pilot a better package”. ”.

Jonathan Rea finished fifth in free practice overall on Friday at Catalunya.

Rea – who won a fierce battle with Bautista to claim the title in 2019 – said while he was keen to move on and focus on his team’s home run in Catalunya, the atmosphere with Bautista and Ducati had “deteriorated”.

“I went to see Alvaro and looked for him behind the garages,” said Rea, who is 47 points behind third-placed Bautista.

“I spoke to him and I really apologized. That was the first thing I wanted to do, excuse me, because the last thing I wanted or wanted for anyone – not just for Alvaro – was that a driver falls in an overtaking maneuver.

“But it happened and I had to deal with the consequences and try to move on.

“From my side, nothing will change because I have to fight so hard to be there in this incredible battle at the moment with two other strong rivals, but of course the mood has deteriorated a bit with a lot of things that have happened. say afterwards, maybe in the heat of the moment,” he added.

“What has been said has been said, they can’t retract it, but we are here at Barcelona now, trying to forget Magny-Cours and focus on the rest of my season.”

Rea’s last victory this season came at Estoril in Portugal in May, with Razgatlioglu winning eight of the 12 races held since and Bautista victorious in the other four.

Nevertheless, despite the growing gap at the top of the championship, Rea remains convinced that he can turn things around.

“I think we always have to look at every race as an opportunity,” said the 35-year-old.

“There are 15 races left, five rounds and three races per round, so there is so much to play for.

“The approach is the same as usual: try to work well with my team to have a good setup and manage the races in the best possible way.”

Rea was fifth fastest overall in Friday’s free practice, with Team HRC’s Iker Lecuona’s FP1 time putting him ahead of Ducati’s Michael Ruben Rinaldi by half a second.

Razgatlioglu finished third followed by Bautista, who was just 0.040 seconds ahead of Rea.

Today’s first race is on Saturday at 13:00 BST after final free practice and Superpole qualifying.

On Sunday, the Superpole race is at 10:00 a.m. BST with the second race at 1:00 p.m. BST.

About Todd Wurtsbach

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