SBK 2022. Rea: “Toprak should accept a private team in MotoGP” - THE INTERVIEW
It amazes me that at 26 Toprak does not accept a private GP. Our antagonism? Maybe he feels it too much. Bautista? I wait to see what happens in the next races
June 29, 2022
THEn this "open heart" interview the Northern Irishman talks to us about his current season, the improvements of his Ninja and his two great opponents: Toprak Razgatlioglu and Alvaro Bautista. Rea does not forget the mistakes made by the Spaniard in 2019 and for this reason he waits to see what will happen in the next rounds. He thinks that Toprak is partly conditioned by always wanting to prove that he is superior to those who have won six world titles, but despite the 79 points to recover he believes that the Turkish is absolutely fighting for the title. Even though he made the same choice in time with him, Jonny was amazed by the fact that the Turk does not accept a private bike in GP and he explains why. Until when will we see him on the track? At the moment the problem does not arise, but it will stop before the age of 40.
Can you give me a brief summary of this first part of the season?
"It was a success. Better than I myself expected, given the difficulties we encountered last season. We are very competitive, although obviously we have to keep working on our bike. They are among the first in every race and this is very important".
Personally I did not expect a Ninja so improved and above all so stable.
"One of the biggest changes from last season is the suspension. Showa has done a fantastic job. But the bike has also improved a lot in terms of the electronics and the chassis and all these factors have made the bike more stable and competitive, and honestly, I haven't reached the limit of this bike yet. "
Now perhaps the least competitive is Yamaha
"No, I don't think so. Last year the R1 was better than our bike, while this year it seems to me to be on the same level as us."
TO Misano you have won your first SBK race and you are the most victorious rider with 8 wins. Why is it so special to you?
"The track has nothing special, it doesn't have a point or a curve that I particularly like. It's the whole atmosphere that I really like. The beach, the restaurants, the people. I go there with my family for a few days. on vacation and for long rides on my bicycle. And then this is the land of motors and competitions, just think that Valentino Rossi doesn't live far from here ".
Toprak recently stated what you yourself said a few years ago: in MotoGP only with a factory bike. Do you still think so?
"The situation is different now. When I said this there were CRTs and in GP the difference between the first bike and the last was abysmal. Now private bikes are much more competitive than in the past and there are many private teams that They can win. Everything has changed. I must say that Toprak's statement amazed me. If you are offered a competitive bike and team in GP you have to go there. Especially if you are 26 years old. "
Does this mean that if today you were offered a place in a competitive team in GP you would go there?
"Of course. But that won't happen."
Speaking of Toprak, sometimes it feels like your duels go beyond the race itself. It seems that for you the important thing is to be in front of him and vice versa. Maybe in Assen if there had been another rider instead of Razgatlioglu you wouldn't have crashed.
"No, I don't think this is true. If there had been another rider instead of Toprak we would not have crashed, but only because another would have thought 'this is Jonny, I have to be careful', while Toprak immediately saw the possibility. to demonstrate his strength ".
V.Do you mean that he is the one who feels most of your challenge?
"Yes. Probably it is. Maybe he wants to show everyone that he is stronger than me, that I have been six times world champion. For my part there is a great respect for both Toprak and Bautista. When I manage to beat them I am very happy because I know that they are champions, with highly competitive means and teams. My current victories give me even more satisfaction than those I have achieved in the past ".
What do you think of Bautista? It seems that he has learned to better manage bikes and races.
"We'll see. In 2019 he had no pressure but he made a lot of mistakes. It's difficult to change character and mentality after so many years of racing. Of course he has an extremely competitive bike and can count on a great team. Let's see what will happen in the races. upcoming races ".
So do you think Toprak is your main opponent for the title?
"Bautista and Razgatlioglu are very similar. They have a completely different riding style and racing strategy, but both have very high level bikes and teams. As a result, they are both capable of winning the title for me. I think it will be us. three to play for the world championship and the one who makes fewer mistakes and fewer bad days will win it ".
Your best year was 2019 and your worst year 2021. Do you agree?
"As for the worst, I had some very difficult years when I was racing with Honda, but since I have been in Kawasaki 2021 has probably been my most difficult year because I knew the limits of the bike and I could not express myself to the fullest of my abilities. . As for my best season, I think it was 2017. A fantastic season (editor's note - 16 wins and 24 podiums in 26 races). Yes it's true, in 2019 I made a great comeback, but Bautista made a real disaster " .
In 2019 Alvaro had a 61-point lead over you, but you won the title. Now Toprak must recover 79 against the Spaniard.
"Yes, in 2019 Bautista preceded me by 61 points, but then I won the title with a 165 point advantage. This means that with three races per round anything is possible. I consider Toprak as one of the three candidates to win the world championship. 2022 ".
Once, speaking of Rossi, you said: “If I'm still here at 42, take me home”. Jokes aside: until what age do you think you will continue running?
"I have no idea. A few years ago I thought I would quit after two or three years, while now I don't ask myself the problem. I certainly won't run until I'm 40 and so since I'm 35 I think I still have 2 in front of me. o 3 years of racing. I know that there were riders like Checa or Biaggi who won the world championship at 39 and 40, but for me it is different. I won my first title at 29 and therefore I have had a long career . At the moment I don't know how to answer you. "