After winning so often in WorldSBK recently, even scoring truly battling second places, and no fewer than six of them in succession, cannot really satisfy a four-time World Champion like Jonathan Rea.
The Northern Irish rider once more had to give best to Bautista and Ducati, and he even had to keep one eye out behind for the closely-following Alex Lowes, in both the short and long Sunday races.
“The best we could hope for today was a brace of second places and we managed to achieve that, albeit with a lot of pressure from Alex in the final race. He kept really pushing, as he had in the sprint race, but I just had that little bit extra in the end of race three to go away,” Rea told bikesportnews.com.
“I want to thank my team for giving me a good bike this weekend and there is always some work to do to improve the package. I felt this weekend we struggled a little bit with front-end stability, especially when the front was moving a little bit in that second part of the final race, in the sectors where I was strong. So I couldn’t really do my rhythm. Apart from that, it was a solid weekend.”
Rea’s little extra at the end of the third race was also a slight slowing of Lowes, who had been a constant threat in both Sunday races.
“It just seemed like he dropped a little bit more than me. I was able to, right at the end, stay in the low 1’34s at a push and then when I saw the gap going up I could roll off a little bit and manage my pitboard.
It was not the most beautiful race but behind my visor I was giving it 110 per cent, especially in those early laps to try and keep in the slipstream as long as I could.
“As soon as I lost that tow it was back to managing my own race, and my own expectations. I am taking home 49 points again and we will try to build on that in Europe.”
Rea is also keen to state that his bike, and his own showings, are actually better than last year. It is just Bautista running away out front on his own.
“Of course we have improved. I feel like the race times are much faster than last year, and we have definitely improved our package.
“The ZX-10RR 2019 model is much better for me. Unfortunately, still right now we are using the whole potential of the engine but we always want more. That is an area we will try to focus on in the next races to maximise our accelerating and exit sped to try and carry it down the straights.”
When asked how frustrating it was to be riding maybe better than ever, and on a better bike than ever, and still being second six times – especially after being used to winning so much – Rea said, “It is very true, I have to get used to not winning.
“I do not want to get used to it but right now Alvaro and Ducati are the reference. I feel mentally very strong, very good, but I accept the situation the way that it is. It is plain to see, but I will keep on doing my thing. I just hope that there will be some tracks that suit us.
Of course everyone is talking about the speed of the Ducati but Alvaro is doing a great job to keep the pace to the end of the race like he is.
“He is really doing an exceptional job and I take my hat off to him. It makes me want to work harder. I do not know what more we can do with the bike because already I feel the bike is at a very good level. Kudos to Alvaro and his team but I am very happy with my job and the team’s job. It is a new experience for me, but it is quite easy to accept when you know what is going on.”
Rea allows for the fact that there may be some good tracks for him coming up, but he is also non-commital about the immediate future and its prospects for more.
“It is very difficult to say right now, but every weekend we will go into with new motivation to try and convince ourselves we can do a good job, like we did this weekend,” he stated.
“Right now we need to chase down that gap. It is a very long season, and I understand how to put a season together. I have been in this position before where I have been chasing and a position where I have been leading.
“I understand the whole way so it is important to put 39 races together and not just six. So we will keep on keeping on. If we win, we win, if we are second, we are second.”
Rea was dismissive of the effect a possible drop of 250rpm may have on the Ducati, if it turns out that way after the balancing rules are brought into play after three rounds. “250 is peanuts. I do not know, I am not a technical guy, and I do not understand how it would affect their bike.
“We lost close to 1400 revs one season and I was still able to go faster. You limit the revs and you make a different engine spec to make the power in a different area. It is simple. Well, it’s not simple! It is technically very difficult for the engineers, but I do not think the rpm will make a huge difference, to be honest.”