With Alvaro Bautista crashing out of the final race of the Jerez weekend, the same Jonathan Rea and his KRT Ninja that won both WorldSBK races in Italy a month ago should have made a big hole in the impressive lead of 43 points the Spaniard had taken into Jerez.
But the troubled Spanish weekend for Rea, by his normal standards, reads fourth – after a drop one position penalty – fourth – after another penalty in the shape of a start from the back of the Superpole Race grid – and then finally ‘only’ a second place by being beaten fair and square by the fast Michael van der Mark and his Yamaha.
Had Rea been second or third each time, he would be more like 20-something points away from Bautista, rather than 41 like now.
“In the final race I did not have the pace of Mikey in the end. It was incredible pace. I feel probably more even than yesterday’s race win,” Rea told bikesportnews.com.
I need to check the times but we definitely made a step with the bike set-up from yesterday afternoon to today, especially with the front-end feeling in the faster corners. But over the lap there were some areas where I was very close, or even better than Michael, but in one crucial area I just lost too much.”
Improved front feel is what Rea needed after feeling his tyre was like a wet at corner apexes in race one on Saturday. “It is something we have been working on all weekend and today the bike was a little step better.
“I needed a clean day today to finish both races strongly. This morning’s race took a lot out of me mentally and physically - coming from the back of the grid to try and make up all those positions in a short space of time.”
Rea had not talked up his Jerez chances after his two Imola wins, even before he got there and got embroiled in controversies that cost him points. “We as a team knew this would be a difficult round for me. When we have been strong here in the winter it was in much different conditions.
“Also I feel like since they have resurfaced the track here it is a very unique track. It is like no other, the level of grip you have. The area of set-up where our bike is out of range of working, really. I am looking forward to something more normal next time out in Misano.”
Rea’s task was not easier given that he is still facing a very fast and high revving bike ridden by an almost faultless opponent. Without the undulations and blind crests of a track like Imola that Bautista did not know well, Rea found some bogeymen back to haunt his race winning chances.
Yesterday in the opening race I was with Alvaro and in all the acceleration zones it is the same story. We only use five gears here but they get to fifth gear so fast. Even in a track where you have a lot of other areas where you can make up, on trail braking, real stop and go areas there is no substitute for that power on the straight.
“Also the way you can afford to ride. By not putting so much stress on the bike in the corner, because you have a rocket. You can adjust your strategy of the race. They are getting it done right now but we are working. We will keep trying to work and I am sure there will be some tracks where we can take some profit from our bike but this weekend was a tough one.”