This year, Gino Rea is returning for his second year in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship. Himself and the rest of the team are counting down the days to get started again. We had a good chat with him, to give you a bit of insight into his winter preparations, feelings about 2020 and expectations for the coming season.
How is the winter break going for you? I came out to Spain at the end of last year and my focus was on building my base fitness levels up. I’ve always been really into my fitness and my training. I work really hard on it in the off season. A lot of people think that work finished at the end of the race season, but for me that’s just the time to reset and start planning and working on improving my body and adaptation to racing a motorcycle because I think fitness is a huge part of it. At the end of last year, I had to have a bit too much rest after having a couple of wisdom teeth out. But after Christmas time, I put my head down and worked according to the plan I had. Since then, it’s been going really well. I’ve recently came back to England and the plan is to be back in Spain and start riding more. You can be as fit as you want in a gym, but there’s nothing like riding a bike so I’m looking forward to getting back out on track.
What are your feelings from last season having to adapt to the GSX-R1000R? Luckily for me, one of my advantages throughout my career has been adapting to situations quickly, whether that means track conditions or changing bikes. I’ve done many disciplines of bike racing, so I’ve had to adapt quickly, and I think that’s carries on through my career. I think that paid off last year. I was able to jump into the team and start chipping away from the off, learning the bike and getting used to the tracks again. The whole environment was different, it was the first factory supported team that I’ve been with, so it was really nice to work with them and I just enjoyed working hard and progressing and lead my first race with them without any pre-season testing like other teams, I think we did a great job and built a good relationship.
Do you think you surpassed your own expectations last season? I think it’s difficult especially in a class as competitive as it is and as stacked as it is with so much talent and factory teams. You always believe in yourself as a rider. Even though I don’t have much experience in BSB, I’ve been at the top of world championships and you never lose faith as a rider if you’ve been at a high level. That’s what puts the expectations high for yourself, but you’ve got to be realistic in the fact that you’re jumping onto a brand-new bike with a brand-new team, up against very experienced and fast riders and factory teams. The expectations were always high, but the reality and the goals weren’t as high as the hopes and aspirations. When I first joined the team, I thought a top 10 was a really good result. It’s not easy to get into the top 10 in BSB. Going into Donington was when we found a little bit on the bike that made me feel more comfortable. I was able to be in that top 6, lead a race and finished 4th. Breaking into the top 5 and to lead a race surpassed my expectations for sure.
What are your feelings heading into 2021? I’m definitely really excited, one of the biggest things is the off- season and pre- season testing. This time of year, for me, is one of the most crucial pieces of the puzzle. You get to know your team and your bike; you get to ride on track away from race circumstances and that’s where you get to do development. From what we learnt last year, we’ve got a few more things to try and hopefully if we get enough test time as planned, we can make a step with the bike. We’ve got some plans for testing and that’s what I’m most excited about, having a good test plan with a team that really knows what they’re doing.
What kind or results would you like to achieve this season? It’s always difficult to predict results, I believe in myself and believe I can be in that top 3 and ultimately win races. We know a few areas we need to work on. The team have been hard at work trying to achieve those over the winter. Once we get on track and do some testing, we’ll see if we’ve made the steps we need to. You only have to find a couple of tenths for a whole lap. BSB is so close so that’ll put you up a few positions. If you can find that consistently lap after lap, that’s the difference between being in sixth and being in third. Every little percentage matter in bike racing. You don’t know who’s going to come out swinging from the start of the season and who’s not. There has been a lot of changes this year going into BSB and last year it showed that changes can upset the atmosphere and the rhythm of the rider, or it could be a good change, you just never know. What you do know is that there is a lot of good riders and teams with lots of experience. You just have to try and make your package as best as you can and hope that others don’t make that step. If we manage to make a small step, then I think we’ve got a really good chance of being competitive.