Rea: Sanction ruling creates precedent for consistency now

"The punishment doesn’t fit the intention, in racing we create a precedent and in the past this manoeuvre hasn’t been actioned at all..."
Rea: Sanction ruling creates precedent for consistency now

Jonathan Rea has challenged the FIM governing body to be ‘consistent’ with its rulings on race incidents going forward following the decision to sanction him for his collision with Alex Lowes during the latest World Superbike Championship round in Jerez, while his WorldSBK title rival Alvaro Bautista argued he shouldn’t have had his penalty applied in the manner it was.

The Ulsterman came together with Pata Yamaha’s Lowes on the final lap in race one as they disputed third position, with the latter coming down and finishing out of the points.

Rea was originally classified as retaining third position as determined by Race Direction, however a protest from Yamaha led to the matter being referred to the FIM WorldSBK Stewards Panel.

A new initiative introduced by the FIM this season – separate from rights’ holders Dorna – the Panel can effectively ‘overrule’ race direction decisions, with Rea subsequently handed down a one-place penalty, dropping him to fourth, and demoted to the back of the Superpole Race grid.

Though Rea accepted the ruling and reiterated his insistence he didn’t intend to be overly aggressive in his attempts to pass Lowes, he was disappointed in the outcome given the leniency given to other moves that have occurred at the notorious left-hander in the past [see below].

With this in mind, Rea says he will be looking out for consistency in the FIM Stewards Panel's rulings going forward to note if his incident creates a precedent that is maintained.

“I have to accept this, in the black and white… if I hadn’t made the move, Alex wouldn’t have crashed but the sad part is I am a racer and my racing instinct was to make a cut back and go to the gap.

“Unfortunately we came together and he went down. It was racing, there was no malice in it, I really felt I could put my bike in that gap and get away with it (not make contact).

“The punishment doesn’t fit the intention, in racing we create a precedent and in the past this manoeuvre in the past hasn’t been actioned at all and now this crash is an example, so I hope the FIM can be consistent now because we have a new guy on the panel now.

“I understand his position, he was under huge pressure from the Yamaha team manager but I am really sorry how that race ended up. I have to accept the penalty, I made it work, I finished fourth… looking at Michael and Alvaro’s pace, it was a very good race because I couldn’t do much more.”

Indeed, Rea says it will potentially make him think twice about making a bold attempt to pass if he feels he’ll be penalised for it.

“I hope deep down from a human point of view I wouldn’t make this move, but I am a racer, a four-time World Champion and I want to make this move again - if I see a gap I am a racer. It has taken a little bit of spark and need step by step to build my confidence.”

Meanwhile, Rea received some unlikely support from key title rival Bautista, who contested the decision to penalise the Kawasaki Racing rider for the following Superpole Race.

Arguing any sanction should be relevant to the race it occurred in only, he compared it to the controversial incident involving Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi at the 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix, for which Rossi was penalised at the next round in Valencia.

“For me you have to penalise a rider in the race it happened,” he said. “So, they have to penalise either harder in the race, but not for the next one. It is like Marquez and Valentino, no no no, if you make the mistake in the race you have to be penalised in that race.”

The FIM WorldSBK Stewards Panel, comprises Gerry Bryce, Tamara Makto and Kendy Chan, was active again over the Jerez weekend, sanctioning Marco Melandri with a six-position grid drop for the next round in Misano for his collision with Chaz Davies.