Gino Rea is determined to fire the Buildbase Suzuki into the top five fight at Brands Hatch this weekend as he prepares for his home round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship.
Rea was in the fight with the leading group at Knockhill during the first stages of the race and ahead of the three races this weekend; he will be hoping that he can improve on his best result of tenth place in the second race in Scotland.
“We definitely finished the Knockhill weekend feeling good and it was nice to finish each race by getting faster and really show our speed in the last one of the weekend,” said Rea. “To have been running in the top six group for the majority of the race was good and to have had the fifth fastest race lap, is a nice achievement for us, especially after a difficult start to the weekend in the free practices.
“We just never gave up and improved the bike throughout the weekend with the chassis. In the race, my weakest sector during practice and qualifying was the last sector, but in the race I was fifth fastest through that sector so made some really good electronic and chassis improvements with the bike. The only issue I have now is it was more difficult over race distance and we did make an improvement with our race distance pace between race two and three.
“I wasn’t able to maintain it in the final part of the race and then we had a little issue which eventually caused the red flag. I tried to move out of the way, but Glenn Irwin had to take evasive action on the grass and crashed. Taking that bit away, the pace was really good. I feel I lose too much speed on the straight-line wheelie, so for example the second crest at Knockhill on the start straight I was losing forward momentum that I then had to make up again through the first and second sector. We are constantly working hard on it and it is something we are constantly working on, we just don’t seem to have the same downforce on the bike.”
The improvement has given Rea optimism for edging that next step closer to his championship rivals as he bids to move up the order in the standings, in a bid to secure a position within the top eight ahead of the Showdown.
“Last year I was pretty good at Brands Hatch, again we have just got to work on getting the chassis right over race distance,” added Rea. “It is difficult because you want to go fast in practice to make the top 12 and then have a good spot on the grid for the race, so you want to do a fast lap but try and find something for race distance too. There are going to be a lot of places at Brands Hatch where the Suzuki works well, but there are also a lot of straight-line wheelie places there too. I love Brands Hatch, it’s my home race, and has always been a great atmosphere, and even more so with the fans being back there this weekend!
“I am quite happy with the progress we are making we just have to keep moving forward. It was great to be in the podium group at Knockhill and I was feeling pretty comfy – it was nice to see the leaders and I have only raced there once before and it wasn’t a great weekend, so that was great. That was a real positive for both me and the team, if we can be that close at those type of tracks then we should have some good, positive weekends coming up, certainly at places like Donington Park and Silverstone.”