With a couple of potential new records waiting to be added to the ones he had gathered in unprecedented bounty throughout the season, four-time WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea did not get to shoot for a final race win at Losail.
There was no race.
No fault of his own, it was the weather and then track conditions that cancelled the final race of his latest amazing season.
He ‘only’ shares the record still for most wins in a single season with Doug Polen (17) but after his first day race win in Losail he did extend his consecutive race winning all-comers run to 11.
No 18th win in a single year, no beating his own all-time one season points score of 556, but it wasn’t a bad season, was it? And he did get to win the last race of the year after all, even if it was supposed to have been the penultimate race.
And what of next year?
Some have already said that the combination of Rea, and another new Ninja with even more base revs to start with, may be just unbeatable again.
“It just depends doesn’t it?” said Rea after one of his rivals commented that he would ‘highly doubt’ Rea would be beaten in 2019. “I went away in an off-season, re-invented myself, found some new motivation and arrived with a great bike and team,” he said of his 2018 year.
“There are a lot of changes next year that brings some uncertainty. But that motivates me a lot to come better prepared next year. Of course we have a new ZX-10RR, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on that in a few weeks time. We will see.
“Everything moves forward. Even the regulation this year got cut for everybody and, for example, yesterday the race time was six seconds faster than last year. That shows the progression. You always have to improve.”
In cutting the peak revs for all Kawasaki riders, by relatively more than most, the Kawasaki engineers had to go away and find a way to overcome their loss of top power and peak revs. Races are won more in entry, apex and exit of corners, for all 20-or so laps, than on the straights anyway.
So did the rule-makers just end up providing Rea with a bike that matched his riding style so well that he won the last 11 races of the season on the bounce, and 17 in all? And 22 podiums out of 25 races? Whatever the rules were maybe supposed to do, they apparently didn’t.
“From an RPM point of view it hasn’t suited” said Rea about his 2018 situation. “But from a chassis point of view we changed the bike, reinvented the base setting and that was the key to the season.”