Jonathan Rea is hoping to give new impetus to the second round of this weekend’s World Superbike at an Estoril circuit he found “difficult” last year.
In 2020, Rea sealed his sixth title by finishing fourth in the first race at the Portuguese venue, fifth in the sprint race, then crashed in the second race, but recovered to take 14th place.
“It was a new circuit so I was constantly adapting,” Rea said.
He leads the 2021 series by 12 points after two wins in Aragon last week
“Estoril is a difficult circuit for us but we hope to build momentum,” added the Northern Irishman.
“I have fond memories of my championship victory there, but I didn’t have a great weekend. It was one of the worst of the year.”
As Alex Lowes came second at home against his teammate Kawasaki in the first two races of the season in Spain last weekend, the Japanese manufacturer had two consecutive 1-2 for the first time in its history.
Rea survived a tie-up with American Grant Gerloff in the final race of the weekend, won by Scott Redding, to take second place.
The six-time champion followed Lowes by 19 points after last season’s championship first round at Phillip Island, but this time it’s Rea who leads the Englishman by 12 points as he heads to Portugal for the second round.
“It was amazing last week to think that I had won 100 victories, everything else became meaningless after that, ”Rea explained.
“I really enjoyed that feeling and coming out of Aragon at the top of the league is so much better than last season.
“Last year I crashed in the first round and it had a ripple effect. This time I hope we can build some momentum in the year.
“I feel really happy with the new ZX-10RR and I feel like I can go out and do a good job.”
‘Let the points take care of themselves’
The 34-year-old will face stiff competition in Estoril from Lowes, as well as Ducati’s Redding and Yamaha-ridden Toprak Razgatlioglu, who occupy third and fourth places respectively after the first round.
Turkish rider Razgatlioglu won two races in the final round of the 2020 season in Portugal in October.
“At this point in the season it’s not about managing anything, it’s about trying to do my best every race and letting the points take care of themselves”, Rea said.
“If I can do that, we should be there or around the middle of the season and we can start to have a game plan for the end.
“Previously, when I created a points lead, I kept extending that lead, but I don’t take that for granted at all.”
|Jonathan Rea (GB)||Kawasaki||57|
|Alex Lowes (GB)||Kawasaki||45|
|Scott Redding (GB)||Ducati||40|
|Toprak Razgatlioglu (Tur)||Yamaha||30|
|Tom Sykes (GB)||Bmw||23|
|Garrett Gerloff (United States)||Yamaha||23|