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Jonathan Rea Races Fabio Quartararo at Assen … Sort of

Comparisons between MotoGP and WSB machinery at the same track are always interesting. It just so happens that the stars aligned and MotoGP raced at Assen immediately prior to WSB (with similar weather conditions).

The winners were Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki), respectively. The numbers were crunched over at the GPOne website, where a number of interesting comparisons were made. It turns out that Rea’s pace was, on average, roughly two seconds per lap slower than the pace of Quartararo, for example. The gap was closer (roughly 1.5 seconds) before the Pirelli tires under Rea predictably deteriorated near the end of the race.

Running that same pace, Rea would not have finished last in the MotoGP race, as his pace would have put him more than 10 seconds ahead of the last finisher in the Assen MotoGP, Luca Marini (Ducati).

Another interesting comparison presented itself when WSB rider Garrett Gerloff raced in both the Assen MotoGP event (aboard a Yamaha M1) and the WSB Assen race (aboard his regular bike, a modified Yamaha R1). Gerloff substituted for the injured Franco Morbidelli in the MotoGP event, and then immediately returned to Assen to race in his regular WSB role. GPOne found that Gerloff’s pace was close to identical aboard both bikes. Of course, Gerloff was far more familiar with his regular ride, the WSB R1.

So here is MD’s take on this. Riding their respective series-legal bikes, the fastest guy in WSB is roughly 1.5 seconds per lap slower at Assen (on fresh tires) than the fastest guy in MotoGP. Not that much, really (for reference, the MotoGP lap record at Assen is roughly 1:33). It begs the question of how fast Jonathan Rea would be on a MotoGP bike. Interestingly enough, Rea is rumored to be considering a move to MotoGP next year with the Petronas Yamaha team. UPDATE: Rea has now confirmed he will continue in WSB next year with Kawasaki.


  1. Gary says:

    1.5 seconds/lap is “not that much.”


    • Dave says:

      It is when two bikes demonstrate that gap on the track at the same time, but an onlooker can’t see the difference viewing the two bikes separately. The it only shows up as a comparison to previous statistics.

  2. Burtg says:

    Kawasaki and Rea need to be called out for spending all their money in World Superbike and not being at MotoGP at all for… let’s see…12 years now?
    And during that time, Kawasaki and Rea have won the last 6 of those years.
    Time to get real and make Kawasaki and Rea race MotoGP.
    If Kawasaki had been competing in MotoGP this whole time like all the other factories, then I’d leave Kawasaki and Rea alone.
    But they haven’t.
    So Rea’s championships will always have an asterisk.
    And that’s unfortunate, because Rea is one of my favorite riders of all time. I liked him back in his Honda days. Too bad.

    • Mick says:

      Kawasaki markets their street bikes. The MotoGP series is all about bikes that you can’t buy.

      This article is about how move expensive talent can ride a more expensive bike a bit faster. Both bikes are limited to four stroke engines. So the truckloads of money spent don’t seem to buy them much.

      This wasn’t much different back in the day. Back when the 768cc class was the 250 class, the last second or so of improved lap time came at a pretty hefty fee. Hefty has changed to astonimicaal now days. These four stroke things are just short of rocket expense.

      Is that progress?

    • Jeremy says:

      Why does Kawasaki need to be called out for spending their money where they want to spend it? Should they be like Honda and barely participate in WSB? Or Suzuki who doesn’t participate at all?

      Kawasaki’s racing budget is a very small fraction of Honda, Yamaha, or Ducati. They want the best return for their money, and they decided that it wasn’t in MotoGP. There is no asterisk needed. If someone else wants the WSBK title more than Kawasaki, then they need to do what it takes to get it.

      • Gutterslob says:

        While I agree about the asterisk beside Rae’s achievements, I also have no idea why Kawasaki are being called out here. It’s almost as if he’s implying Kawasaki chose to spend their money where the other manufacturers don’t. It’s worth noting that BMW had a bigger budget for most of their first factory WSB tenure than Kawasaki did at the time, and won diddly squat.

    • Motoman says:

      No asterisk needed (see Jeremy’s comment).

    • Motoman says:

      No asterisk needed. See Jeremy’s comment.

  3. TF says:

    I think it would be good for the sport for Rea AND Kawasaki to have a go at MotoGP. I also think that WSBK has lost more than a few viewers because of the KRT/Rea dominance and the lack of exciting racing (although this year has been a refreshing change……so far). I am a WSBK subscriber mainly because of 300SSP.

  4. Rapier says:

    It’s surprising how close the stock based bikes are to the ultimate machines full of unobtanium components.

    Not related, maybe, but spec tires for Moto GP makes no sense to me. Why? It must be money.

    I am barely a Moto GP fan but it just seems wrong that tires are the most important element in the class. Tires and making them last drives almost every element of the bikes designs and riding styles. Which gets back to the spec thing. Let the riders and teams and the tire companies compete via tire options. Here is a discussion of that.

    • Mick says:

      Back in the day there was only two tire companies willing to show up and one was always a better choice. So you basically had half of the grid on bad tires. One year some darling rider that everyone wanted to win changed tire sponcers at a time when the difference was really stark and bang! Spec tires for everyone.

      Honda did all kinds of crazy oval piston zillion valve tricks to try to make a four stroke competitive back then too. But riding Honda’s four stroke was called losing just like using tires from the wrong manufacturer.

      Oddly enough, Honda made some really fast two strokes. They won Dakar a couple of times with a comparatively small engine that used active radical combustion technology. Then they decided the they were a four stroke company. So they scrapped the project and buried the big brain guy that developed it. Decades later you still don’t see it again anywhere. Sad.

      • mickey says:

        Yep real dogs those Honda 4 strokes

        In the 18 seasons since 2002, the advent of the four-stroke era in MotoGP, Honda has won a total of 22 Riders and Manufacturers Championships, as well as 153 Grands Prix.

        Soichiro was always a 4 stroke guy, and I’ve read that he said the Honda Wing emblem would never be on a 2 stroke. Of course he had to eat those words. I believe it wasn’t until MX became popular in the 70’s that Honda built a 2 stroke for the masses, but 4 strokes have always been their bread and butter.

        • Mick says:

          Since 2002. Before that they did quite well with their two strokes and very poorly on four strokes.

          As I pointed out above. 🙂

          The four stroke rule years are irrelevant to me. I’m sorry.

          • Dave says:

            In most forms of racing, two strokes do well until 4-strokes are allowed, then they lose. There are exceptions, but only a few.

          • Mick says:

            You mean until four strokes are allowed a huge displacement advantage. In motocross they even moved the jumps further from the corners for the four strokes.

            The only series that four strokes have done well at all in without some help from the rule books, or construction equipment, is observed trials.

          • Dave says:

            You’re trotting that old line out again?

            In mx/sx the jumps were moved closer to the turns, though that’s probably a bigger disadvantage to the 2T’s than the displacement was.

            There’s an article MXA published in 2019 where race prepped 2 and 4 stroke were compared at the same displacement. You should read it..

          • mickey says:

            Why? He won’t believe it or agree with it.

            Arguing 2T vs 4T in 2021 is a losing battle, They aren’t going back to 2T’s. Not for the street anyways, and certainly not in road racing.

          • Mick says:

            People leave magazines like that in the bathroom of my camper. I did read an article something like that. It basically said the two stroke was ultimately faster, but the four stroke was more consistant.

            What it didn’t say anything about was how versatile the bikes were once they left the Moto track and went to the woods or ice racing or whatever. Nor did it go into longevity or operating costs and maintenance efforts.

            I have dutifully bought four stroke race bikes for decades and lived with them. I sold them all for good before I moved to Europe 9 years ago. They just aren’t versitile and they are maintenance and cost intensive. They are a highly developed, but obsolete deign.

            Every winter I designed my ice race tracks so the guys on 250 four strokes wouldn’t be left for dead on the straights, basically by not having any long straights. I bought a 250 4t to test the tracks for myself.

            No magazine devoted to selling four stroke motocross bikes will ever change my mind about that.

  5. Tom R says:

    Drop the four stroke rules?

    While we’re at it lets add some frickin’ sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.

  6. Mick says:

    OK fine. So whistle up Suter and have him whip up an MMX1000 and an MMX768 and send them to Assen to find out about how fast MotoGP and Moto2 would be if they dropped the four stroke rules. Now THAT would be interesting.

    Bring me back a wheel of Tynjetaler while you’re at it. Yummy!

    • Tom R says:

      Drop the four stroke rules?

      While we’re at it lets add some frickin’ sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.

      • Mick says:

        I like the imagery.

        Four stroke = sea bass (not iltempered).

        Two stroke = frickin’ sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.

        What are you riding on race day?

      • Mick says:

        Maybe that’s why they didn’t DQ the guy whose suit blew open.

        He was just using whatever he had available to best resemble a sea bass.

    • Dave says:

      2T’s were unbearably hard to ride when they were 500’s. You think a 1000 2T would somehow be better?

      2T’s didn’t lose so badly because they had less horsepower. They lose because the horsepower they had was very difficult to apply to a tire’s contact patch.

      • Motoman says:

        Common misconception that a 2 stroke must have a narrow power band. Ever ride a Suzuki GT750 (water buffalo)? How about a KTM 300? Heck even a KX100 with a little extra fly wheel weight has a pretty wide power band. If they made a 2-stroke bigger you’d get a wider power band with the same horsepower all else being equal (very simplified, I’m sure I will be critiqued).

        I think Mick’s whole point is if they kept developing 2-strokes they would be faster/better. But there are bigger issues of concern than whether companies will continue to develop 2-strokes to satisfy Mick’s desires. And it’s not like a ZX10, R1 etc sucks on the race track , eh?

        • Dave says:

          I agree that a broad power band is possible for 2 stroke (though not as broad as a 4 stroke with similar power output), but within the frameworks of racing classes, they never really have achieved it. A 2 stroke just can’t scavenge well enough at low rpm, or rev as high as a 4 stroke. I think it’ll stay that way until someone figures out how to execute variable port heights and deck height (Yamaha experimented with that back in the 90’s) with a significant range.

  7. Grover says:

    Rea had a chance in at MotoGp 2012 when he ran for Casey Stoner when he was out. He finished 7th and 8th in two races and then returned to WSB. I think he’s happy where he’s at. Also, how many 34 year old riders can you name that made the switch when most are retiring before that ripe old age?

  8. viktor92 says:

    I think Rea would adapt fast to the superior machinery of the MotoGP, but the SRT boss has ruled out Rea saying that his age plays against him, and that they prefer to develop young pilots… so Jonathan will stay with the green machine, it’s the logical conclusion for everyone.
    Anyway it’s amazing that a street bike can run so close to a prototype, imagine a tuned street car that can run only 1.5 second slower than a F1, absolutely impossible.

    • Stuki Moi says:

      Sport bikes for the street, are darned near race bikes already. Have been for a long time. It’s a completely different situation from the car world.

      A good part, is simply physics: Even street bikes are mostly limited on the brakes by endoing, in acceleration by wheelies, and in turns by no more physical space left for deeper lean angles. There’s really no way to work around those, even with MotoGP budgets, while still retaining trappings of what we think of as a motorcycle.

      • Motoman says:

        Excellent point Stuki. I would say that the same applies to cars. Its just that the simple physics limitations take place at much higher performance levels. And if you have the budget, you can access some of that performance in modern super-cars which are darned near race cars too.

        • Dave says:

          I think he’s referring to things like F1 and LMP. The very best road going hyper-cars don’t approach similar performance to these things. Too light, too much aero downforce.

  9. Todd says:

    Since this discussion is pointless, I say we put Rea on Marc’s bike and vice versa at two races each gets to choose a track of there choosing . Since that’s not going to happen I’ll settle for a Prestigio battle royal.

  10. mickey says:

    Rea is very fast in WSB no doubt, and would likely be very quick in MotoGP, but the top riders in MotoGP are more than very quick, they are insanely fast. 1.5 seconds a lap in MotoGP is eons these days. One second a lap will get you 15th place on the starting grid.

    Of course Rea would become accustomed to the power of a MotoGP bike and brakes in a couple of seasons, but I wouldn’t expect him to make an immediate impact.

    • ScotocS says:

      Yes. I’m not suggesting Cameron Beaubier is anywhere close to Rea’s talent level or career accomplishments, but he does have six US titles under his belt, and it’s telling that he’s very average in Moto2 (still better than Luthi or Baldassari though). Rea would similarly struggle for at least a year or two before sniffing podiums in MotoGP.

      • Motoman says:

        Bet Beaubier isn’t very average in Moto2 when he learns the tracks. Let’s not forget most (if not all?) of the tracks he is racing on are new to him while most everyone else has many years racing on those same tracks.

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