Jonathan Rea has revealed he underwent knee surgery in April after becoming ‘frustrated’ with a troubling injury.
The Kawasaki rider is gunning for victory this weekend at his home round of the World Superbike Championship at Donington Park in Leicestershire, where Rea was second fastest during yesterday’s free practice sessions, 0.317s down on American rider Garrett Gerloff.
Rea kept the operation quiet as he prepared for the opening round of the new season at Motorland Aragon in Spain in May, and the 34-year-old showed no ill-effects as he clinched a milestone 100th victory in race one.
“It’s been a recurring injury since my early motocross days when I was a teenager,” Rea said.
“I had the problem two tests in a row and I was starting to get frustrated, so I spoke with my team, our doctors and my own doctor back home in Belfast and the course of action was arthroscopy – they went into my knee through two little incisions and were able to trim back the cartilage that was damaged, which was basically rolling up and causing the knee to lock.
“But when I saw the piece they cut out of my knee, it was like a giant calamari! It was nice to get that out of the way and I was told to stay off my feet for a couple of days and then I was able to get back to full training.
“I had the operation on the Wednesday after the Barcelona test and on the Sunday after that, I was on my bicycle and pushing with the same kind of power I would make on a good day. So huge thanks to my consultant and to my team for their trust that we could do this for the first round. It was a success because we won the first race at Aragon.”
Rea bagged a hat-trick at Donington two years ago and is delighted to have the opportunity to compete again at his home round.
“It was a great year for me in 2019 and I hope to put on a good show for everyone,” he said.
Compatriot Eugene Laverty will be aiming for a big improvement after he was 19th on the combined times yesterday on the RC Squadra Corse BMW.
Race one will take place today at 2pm following qualifying, with the Superpole race tomorrow at 11am and the final race at 2pm.
Meanwhile, plans for this month’s Armoy Road Races (July 30-31) are now in full swing after the NI Executive lifted the cap on 500 people at outdoor gatherings. A risk assessment will be undertaken to determine the maximum number of fans permitted.
Ω Lewis Hamilton set the pace in second practice at the Austrian Grand Prix to give Mercedes hope of clawing back some lost ground to Red Bull.
Hamilton beat team-mate Valtteri Bottas by 0.189 seconds, while title rival Max Verstappen was 0.217secs back.
Red Bull’s Verstappen moved 18 points clear of Hamilton in the Championship after dominating Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix.