Belfast Telegraph

'I disagreed completely': Jonathan Rea backs decision to race despite Eugene Laverty criticism

 

Pressure off: Jonathan Rea in relaxed mood in Argentina
Pressure off: Jonathan Rea in relaxed mood in Argentina
Eugene Laverty

Recently-crowned five-in-a-row world champion Jonathan Rea swatted away criticism from compatriot Eugene Laverty after scoring a World Superbike double in Argentina on Sunday.

The Kawasaki rider had finished second in what proved a controversial opening race as the penultimate round of the 2019 series was overshadowed by the dust and sand-covered San Juan Villicum Circuit on Friday and Saturday.

Only 12 riders lining up for the race on Saturday, with Laverty among the group of six riders refusing to take to the track.

"The asphalt is not up to FIM standard," explained the Toome rider. "It was like riding with dry tyres in wet conditions. Jonathan (Rea) is our representative and let us down. I'm going to have to speak to him."

Rea, however, backed his decision to give the paying supporters what they wanted.

"They don't like that my opinion was different to their's," Rea told Eurosport.

"I disagreed completely, flat-out, with marching onto the pit lane in our civvies like some kind of army, saying 'we're going to show them'.

"Because it's not the right thing to do, you know? We're one identity here, we're Superbike, we have to try, you know?

"This is a country that's really struggling and people are paying for tickets to come and see us, at least go to the grid.

"I'm not going to get peer-pressured into something that I don't want to do. Nobody held a gun to my head to go and ride. There were a lot of stories about getting fined but it has nothing to do with that.

"We're racing for a manufacturers' title as well, and while I felt the conditions were not ideal, we could race.

"We got a good race underway, we got 21 laps and those who started finished. We got 20 points at the end of the day."

In Sunday's feature race, Rea had to overcome an early set-back to claim the win.

The 32-year-old made a mistake on the sixth lap of the second 21-lap race, as he ran wide at the end of the back straight and allowed Alvaro Bautista into a short-lived lead.

Chaz Davies then became Rea's closest challenger, but despite closing in was unable to get any closer than two seconds.

Laverty rode a superb race from 16th on the grid to finish seventh.

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