Confidence: the Most Powerful Force in Racing
Confidence truly is the most powerful force in racing. With it, a rider will be unbeatable but without it, you can be sent into a tailspin. Jonathan Rea took a giant step towards defending his WorldSBK crown by dominating the Dutch round with a double at Assen, after having his moments of self-doubt earlier in the weekend.
The Northern Irishman had to dig deep and place a lot of trust in the team around him to win. After a difficult time in Thailand and Aragon where he said that he never felt comfortable on the bike, these 50 points will have settled a lot of the nerves that have set in recently.
It seems remarkable that Rea, who has led the Championship after every race since he moved to Kawasaki at the start of 2015, should feel doubts about his package but that’s what has transpired. The 2016 ZX10-R Ninja is a very different beast to last year’s version and it’s taken Rea time to get up to speed.
The Champion’s usual riding style doesn’t mesh as easily with this bike and its different engine characteristics. This has led to instability within Rea’s camp and a failure to find the base setting as quickly as last year. The adaptability of Rea’s crew to the bike is not to be underestimated. The confidence and trust between Rea and his crew chief, former racer Pere Riba, is second to none. This was illustrated on Saturday when the champion placed his trust in Riba’s settings before Race 1.
With no dry weather running prior to Superpole the challenge for riders was immense. It took Rea a bit of time to get up to speed but once the race started he gradually eased his way to the front as his confidence grew.
Confidence is the lifeblood of any racer and it’s as difficult to find as it’s easy to lose.
Right now Leon Camier has plenty of reasons to feel confident. The British rider has just delivered MV Agusta their best ever result in WorldSBK with a fourth place finish on Saturday. It was a stunning ride from Camier on the under-appreciated MV and it’s well handling chassis has allowed Camier to put it into positions that has surprised many.
Josh Brookes was another rider who was able to make a step forward last weekend and show a new found confidence. The reigning British Superbike champion struggled on Saturday but in the difficult, changeable conditions of Sunday he excelled. Having fought through the field he led before the pitstops and looks to have taken a giant leap forwards. Brookes had been fifth fastest in Sunday morning’s warmup session and said that he felt much more comfortable on his BMW. The Australian said that he felt that it was important to have led on merit on Sunday and that it was a real boost for him however his crash from the race once he switched to slicks had understandably been a bitter disappointment.
Michael van der Mark experienced the highs and lows of racing in front of a home crowd at the weekend. The Dutch superstar gave it his all to win Race 1 but his fast and loose approach ultimately caught up with him and he crashed. It was another lesson for van der Mark, who continues to impress. Racing at the front against Davies and Rea is a hard fought scrap that you need to be at ten-ten at all times. Unfortunately for van der mark he turned the dial to 11 and crashed.
In Race 2 he was much more considered in the tricky conditions and rewarded a huge home crowd with a podium finish. The Honda rider has quickly developed into one of the best Superbike riders on the planet and is already a hot commodity on the rider market. His first win looks to be only around the corner but it’s so competitive in WorldSBK at the moment that nothing can be taken for granted.
When confidence is high a rider’s performance soars and it truly is the difference between standing on the podium or missing out. The first four rounds have given almost the entire grid reason for optimism as the business end of the season nears. With races coming thick and fast until Laguna Seca in July, the fight on track will come down to who can build and maintain their confidence. Right now Jonathan Rea has put himself in the best possible position to remain the man to beat. His 45 point title lead is as difficult a mountain to climb as any in the world.
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