Originally, it was Rossi on Gibernau (in 2004), then Marquez on Lorenzo (2013, in that case), and today Rea on Lowes was added to the list. The last turn at Jerez is now a classic for controversial overtakings and, today, Jonathan and Alex added a new chapter to the story.
The Kawasaki rider is the first to be mortified by what happened. In fact, as soon as the race ended, he stopped in front of the Yamaha box to apologize. He didn't choose the right moment because the spirits were still boiling.
"Alex had a pace similar to mine. I studied it, and tried to stay as close as possible on the last lap to attack him on the last corner " said Rea. "He went a bit wide, and I tried to slip inside but, at that moment, Alex got back on course, and I couldn't avoid contact. It was horrible. I'm really sorry for having put an end to his race, but it was a classic racing accident when you're battling it out in the last corner."
Could you have done something to prevent it?
"Unfortunately, I entered really tight and couldn't bend the bike any further. I had to lift it a little, but it was enough to hit his arm. It's not the way Alex deserved to finish the race."
Was it a simple racing accident?
"We're talking about the last turn at Jerez. Similar things have happened many times in the past and will happen again. Unfortunately, the consequences were bad. I'm sorry to have sent Alex into the gravel. He's one of the best guys in the paddock. I tried to apologize to the Yamaha men as soon as the race was over, but the spirits there were still boiling, and all they did was scream at me."
It's understandable at certain times...
"We fought the whole race. On a couple of occasions, Alex did a maneuver similar to mine, but I had heard him coming. He simply closed the trajectory on the last turn, and I couldn't do anything else."
The podium is confirmed. Do you expect provisions to be taken?
"I'm sure Race Management will agree with me. It was a completely involuntary racing accident. I don't feel good about it. It's not a good situation. But putting yourself in the rider's shoes and looking at the data, you can understand what happened. Races are like that."
Forgetting the accident, perhaps today you expected to fight for something more than the last step on the podium...
"When there's a lot of grip on the asphalt, the Kawasaki works incredibly well, especially in the morning when temperatures are lower. In qualifying, I was able to put into practice a strategy with 3 tires, and I was very focused. I had made a couple of mistakes in my fastest lap, at the first turn and at 9, but it was still enough for the pole."
What happened in the race?
"In the afternoon, the temperatures rose, and I was in trouble. We had only made small changes to the rear, but I couldn't get the apex, and I stressed the front tire. It was like chewing gum, as if I were using a wet-weather tire on dry. I tried to do my best. When Alvaro passed me, I immediately understood that he had another pace. I tried to keep up with him, but it was impossible. Then van der Mark caught up and he was faster than me too."
Did you experiment with a new riding position. How did it go?
I didn't understand after this race whether it was better or not because I didn't trust the front. When I would let off on the brakes, it was like driving on marbles. Now we have to put all the pieces together for tomorrow because Alvaro's pace today was from another planet."
Audio recorded by Riccardo Guglielmetti