Back in action

What a start to 2021 it has been! World Superbike has been great so far although, I must admit, not exactly what I expected from Aragon and Estoril. It’s easily said but not easily done: Jonathan Rea’s rivals need to work harder to beat him.

Greg Haines writes from Warwickshire, England

So, this weekend WorldSBK heads to Misano in Italy for Round 3 of the new campaign. We’d waited for 216 days since the end of last season for the action to get underway in Aragon and since then we’ve had Estoril as well.

In my opinion, Jonathan Rea has further demonstrated just why he’s so hard to beat. As Scott Redding has said this week on the run-up to Misano, you need absolute perfection to beat the Kawasaki rider. We also shouldn’t underestimate just how much better the Kawasaki bike is; they’ve simply done what do they best which is take an already mighty machine and refine it to be even better. Clearly the aero improvements are working wonders, allowing Rea and Alex Lowes to better follow in the dirty air of other bikes as well as massively improving downforce in long corners – and we had perfect examples of that from on-board shots at Estoril’s Parabolica.

On a similar note, it’s pretty obvious to me that others have failed to capitalise when they’ve had great opportunities. Redding’s error while chasing Rea in Portugal came through desperation to overtake, while jump-start merchant Toprak Razgatlioglu and Yamaha must have been very disappointed to miss out on a potential treble; I couldn’t believe a blue bike hadn’t finished on top of the podium in any of the races in Estoril. It’s easy for me to say that of course, as a commentator and fan at the end of the day, although based on their 2020 results and own expectations before the race weekend I don’t think there’s any getting away from it.

Misano is going to be very interesting. Yes, Redding and Ducati have tested there over the winter, but only in much cooler conditions. In fact, the next five circuits are all new to Redding in World Superbike spec so it’s hardly going to be a walk in the park; sure enough, Most and Navarra are new to all in race conditions, but before that we have Misano, Donington Park and Assen which were all off the 2020 calendar due to the pandemic…and they’re all very happy Rea hunting grounds.

From this weekend onwards, World Supersport has the super soft SCX tyre to play with. Even more intriguingly, World Superbike now has not one but two qualifying tyres, so Superpole really is going to be full of drama right from the beginning. I’m not a rider but, if I was, I’d be getting out there early for at least the first run to get a banker lap in…just in case any of those pesky yellow flags return!

We’ll be live on Eurosport 2 with James Whitham from 9:25am UK time on Friday for Free Practice 1. Get some tweets to him (@JimWhit69) and we’ll read them out!