Jonathan Rea left frustrated after crash at Suzuka

Jonathan Rea on the Team Green Kawasaki at Suzuka in Japan.
Jonathan Rea on the Team Green Kawasaki at Suzuka in Japan.

Jonathan Rea finished third in the legendary Suzuka 8-hours race in Japan on Sunday along with Team Green Kawasaki team-mates Leon Haslam and Kazuma Watanabe.

Rea, who became the first British rider to win the race in 2012 when he rode for the FCC TSR Honda team, was caught out in the rain towards the end of the race on slick tyres as he was planning to pull into the pits to change to wets.

The race was won by the factory Yamaha team of Michael van der Mark, Alex Lowes and Katsuyuki Nakasuga, with Honda’s factory line-up of Takumi Takahashi, Takaaki Nakagami and PJ Jacobsen sealing the runner-up spot.

World Superbike champion Rea said: “It was very difficult and we had so many conditions today and some things that we weren’t prepared for.

“I maybe lacked some experience as an endurance rider when I should’ve been sticking to my guns when I wanted to come into the pits (to change to wets), which I probably should have done instead of listening to my pit board.

“Anyway, I’m really happy because I gave a big effort and both myself and Leon, and Kazuma – all the team – we fell short and it just didn’t fall our way here,” he added.

“What can I say, except congratulations to Yamaha and Honda on a good race. It didn’t happen for us but we proved our speed, which I’m really happy about and I want to thank both my team-mates as well because they did a really good job in a difficult race.”

Rea and Haslam, who did all but one of the stints for the Kawasaki team, also ran out of fuel around half-distance, costing them more valuable time before Rea’s slow-speed spill ended any hopes of victory.

Explaining his crash, Rea said: “I was asking with my hand if I could come in but the pit board kept saying ‘stay’. I didn’t have so much throttle or lean angle but the rear came around like a speedway bike.

“Unfortunately I couldn’t save it but fortunately there was no injury and I was able to get the bike back. We only lost one lap but it was really frustrating and it came at a bad moment for us.”

Michael Laverty and his British Superbike team-mate Christian Iddon finished in 15th position for the Financial Services 135 BMW team.

Haslam, who is the current leader of the British Superbike Championship, will join Rea in the Kawasaki Racing Team in 2019 for the World Superbike Championship. He replaces Tom Sykes, who will leave at the end of this season.

Rea is on course to win the title for a record fourth year in a row.

He leads Chaz Davies by 92 points with four rounds to go.

The championship is in the midst of a summer break and will resume again in Portugal in the middle of September.