Give Jonathan Rea and inch and he will take a mile. So have many WorldSBK riders felt in the past few years, as the Kawasaki man capitalised on errors and opportunities delivered by his peers easing his passage to a major points lead in no time at all.
Not been like that for Rea in 2019, not at all, but now he has a points lead of 81. Such an immense figure, it seems Alvaro Bautista could not have possibly only lost the championship lead to Rea only after the first race at Donington. Since then that nine-point lead has grown unfettered by the luckless and constantly-crashing Bautista to its new total of well over three wins.
Rea is still stunned to be getting all these gifts from his rival, as he said after the end of play third race at Laguna.
“I would never have believed you if you told me I would come here and set a new lap record, win two races and take the overall, so it has been a great weekend,” he told bikesportnews.com.
A third ‘Bautista out’ signal on his pitboard didn’t change the game for Rea even though it was another gift.
“I just concentrated on my race, to be honest. As soon as I saw that I felt like, OK, I really need to try to push on and win the race; make an impact. But to be honest I was just fighting the bike, thinking about that all race. Not so much else.
“Now I can have a little think, now we are driving the championship, compared to the first part of the year. There is still a lot to play for but what has happened in the last three rounds has shown us that anything can happen so we have to keep our focus, think of all those little individual battles and maximise our potential every weekend.”
Rea was unable to challenge Davies for the final race win after a small change in his package for the afternoon race, the final 25-lapper. “We changed the rear shock settings and I felt we were putting too much load onto the front in heavy braking, and I lost a bit of exit traction because of it.
“It was a very small change but a very big impact. I have not thought about the championship at all. I forecasted that just because of how fast the Ducati is, that if we are to have any chance we needed to have some kind of gap going into the last races.”
Rea certainly has that, and it was an unpredictable weekend all round at the top end of the points table.
“I expected to be strong here in Laguna but I was surprised at our pace. I was very happy. Race two was more difficult but still a good result. Let’s see in Portimao. Both Ducatis have been there in beginning of the season testing, and also everyone will be there next month testing. I guess it will be a fast weekend.”