The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship gave us a lot of emotions during the season and not only the riders know it well. Team leaders, crew leaders and obviously also families have experienced these sensations and many more are waiting for us. Take Riba is his chief engineer Jonathan Rhea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) are both on the hunt for an unprecedented seventh consecutive world title. In Portimao, Riba experienced “perhaps the most difficult weekend” of his life. We also spoke with him to find out what he and his team can do to support Jonny in the crucial phases of this 2021.
“Sauce the most difficult weekend of my life … it was very difficult”
“Honestly, personally speaking, it was probably the hardest weekend of my life,” began an excited Riba. “Especially not for technical but emotional reasons. This year the Championship is very difficult, Toprak is doing a great job and Jonny is also fighting. “One time he is a pilot, the other time.”
“We arrived in Portimao still having the potential in the three games with many points. That weekend we prepared well and Jonny was strong. then what happened in the 1st race was very difficult. Especially for Jonny because he knew he could do a good job and we knew he had the rhythm to aim for a hat-trick. It was very difficult to see him lose 25 points and Toprak also win. So we lost 100% of those 25 points. “We talked to Jonny and tried to keep the motivation as high as possible even if it was very difficult.”
Things did not go very well even on Sunday morning with the arrival of the rain. In fact, Rea crashed: “During the rain we did a normal job, but it was a whole new bike. with the crash in the 1st race the motorcycle was completely destroyed and ended up on the ground with over 200 kilometers / hour. We have set it up to prepare for the race. everything went well and then in the race, in the first round, he was in the lead. Before the end of the first round he was a little enthusiastic. Reaching turn 13, he broke very hard and lost the front “.
“It was a big shock for us …”
It was not easy to swallow, but the team gathered around Rea to make sure he was fully aware that there would be another chance later in the second leg: “It was a big shock for us, especially for him. emotionally it was a great loss. Obviously I really believe – as I tell everyone – that we are a team and in these moments it is possible to see everyone around Jonny, helping him to understand that this is something that has already happened and that in the 2nd race we had the rhythm, the bicycle., the pilot. “We just tried to relieve the pressure on him and tell him to have as much fun as possible.”
“At the end of the day he was very amazing and for me, he was very emotional and, let me tell you, before race 2, I was worried about Jonny,” Riba continued. “About how he would have reacted after the crash of two consecutive games – something that does not usually happen to him – and how he would have felt. In each case, they have seized it, despite obstacles we can scarcely imagine. “
“You have to fight and always believe it!”
“I think Johnny could have won the race in any case as the pace was good and given our performance we were able to keep the tires until the end. The track was slightly more critical with the tires and there was also a bit of wind, but Jonny drove very well. Then what we all know happened to Toprak and that shows you should never give up. you can never say “it’s over, it’s over”, you must always keep fighting and believe in it “.
“It will be very interesting …”
“Now our philosophy will be to think match after match, match 1 in Argentina will be like the last one. It does not mean that in this Match 1 you have to go crazy, but we have to run match by match to try to collect as much as we can and then try to leave our opponent behind. I believe that, with six more games ahead of us, many things can happen. After Sunday morning in Portimao, we were behind by about 50 points and now we are back at -24. Who thought this could happen? I think none. With six more games ahead of us, there are still 124 points, that many. Anything can happen? obviously we will try to fight as always and we will try to help Johnny as much as we can, giving him the best means: we will see. It will be very interesting… “.
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