Ulster’s Jonathan Rea had mixed fortunes when he made his debut in the World Superbike Championship in Portugal yesterday.
This was Rea’s ‘preview’ of the World Championship next year when he will be riding a Honda in the major series.
Yesterday in the final round of the championship — but Rea’s first — he finished 4th in the opening race behind newly crowned World Champion Troy Bayliss and in the second race he had the misfortune to run wide and lose ground with the result that he finished 15th.
Rea said “I suppose I could have done better but this was my first time in the Superbike Championship.
“I might have panicked a little in that second race and I’ll have to learn to keep my head.
“The first race was a dream and I was delighted with that 4th place.
“I had a scrap for 2nd spot with Leon Haslam and Cal Crutchlow and at one time I thought I might have ended up on the podium.
“But I am quite happy with the result.”
In the second race which was also won by Bayliss, Rea was in mid division when he lost control and slid onto the gravel.
By the time he got back into the race he was well down the field.
“I must remember that I am up against some high class opposition here so I’ll gave to be more careful in future,” he added.
Leon Haslam finished 3rd and at one stage was pressing the leader.
But as far as Rea was concerned this was food for thought.
He will be competing next year at top level and left the World Supersport Championship when he was in 2nd place with yesterdays round to come.
Obviously he registered no points and decided to give up the Supersport chase to have a crack at the Superbike.
He feels that he made the right decision and is keen to get to grips next year with some of the top names in the sport.
Meanwhile, in the British Superbike Championship Ian Lowry has agreed with the TAS team to ride for them and will be operating on a Suzuki, the same as this year when he was competing in the British Supersport Championship.
Lowry has made a major move as far as his career is concerned and he will be competing at top level.
This means that Michael Laverty who was riding for TAS this year is likely to move elsewhere.
However, both Lowry and Laverty are on route to Australia where they will be competing in Perth before moving on to Macau.