'Every dog has his day': Jonathan Rea focused on getting back on top as Bautista completes double treble
Jonathan Rea now knows how tough a fight he faces to claim a record fifth-successive World Superbikes crown.
The Templepatrick-based rider had to settle for three second place finishes at the Chang Circuit in Thailand during the second round of the championship over the weekend, once again playing second fiddle to Spain's Alvaro Bautista on the superfast Ducati V4R.
For Eugene Laverty, it was a shocker of a meeting, the Toomebridge rider forced to bail off his Team Goeleven Ducati at over 120mph with front brake failure going into the last corner in race one on Saturday.
Luckily escaping injury Laverty said: "I was in shock. I was just settling into the race on lap three when coming towards the last corner I discovered I had no front brake.
"I tried to pump the lever three times, but I had no brake pressure and so I had to jump off the side of the bike. It was a scary accident and I was fortunate to be able to walk away uninjured."
Unfortunately, the Ducati ran straight into the trackside barriers and was destroyed.
His team tried their utmost to get the bike repaired, even sourcing parts from the factory Ducati team, they were unable to get the machine restored for the sprint and second main race, reluctantly forcing Laverty into a spectator role.
In the first 20-lap Superbike race, Rea and Bautista went at it hammer and tongs in the early laps with the pair actually touching on lap three when Bautista ran wide and Jonathan cut back underneath the Spaniard.
It was a minor setback for Bautista as he fought back and regained the lead with some 12 laps remaining. Rea clung on, but had to settle for second some eight seconds adrift of the championship leader.
Scheduled for 10 laps, the sprint race was red flagged after an incident on the seventh lap with Bautista the winner by two seconds from Rea who had a 0.415sec advantage over Alex Lowes.
The final 20-lap race saw Bautista lead from start to finish 10 seconds clear of Rea, who fended off the challenge of Lowes by two seconds at the chequered flag.
Rea commented: "It was a solid weekend and we extracted the best out of the Kawasaki ZX-10RR for three second places, trying 100%. We made a small change between race one and the sprint race, but it didn't work. Once I lost Alvaro's slip-stream I just managed my own races and enjoyed the scraps with Alex.
"Every dog has his day and I hope it is mine when we get to Aragon in three weeks time. Right now Alvaro is doing a great job to keep his pace to the end of the race and he is the reference point."
British Superbike pre-season testing moved to Portimao in Portugal and yesterday Scott Redding picked himself up from a morning crash to set the fastest time of the day on the PBM Be Wiser Ducati V4R, two one hundredths of a second faster than the Honda of Xavi Fores with Josh Brookes on the second PBM Ducati a further 10th of a second back in third with Andrew Irwin, the best of the Carrickfergus brothers, fifth fastest and Glenn just outside the top 10.
Due to ride one of the Paul Bird Ducati V4 machines at the North West 200, Alastair Seeley got his first ride on one of the machines yesterday in Portugal in a familiarisation outing.
Testing continues today.
Superpole Race: 1 Alvaro Bautista (Spa) Ducati 10mins 06.157secs, 2 Jonathan Rea (Gbr) Kawasaki 10:07.833, 3 Alex Lowes (Gbr) Yamaha 10:08.233, 4 Michael van der Mark (Ned) Yamaha 10:10.938, 5 Leon Haslam (Gbr) Kawasaki 10:11.582, 6 Marco Melandri (Ita) Yamaha 10:11.690, 7 Sandro Cortese (Ger) Yamaha 10:12.005, 8 Chaz Davies (Gbr) Ducati 10:13.378, 9 Topak Razgatlioglu (Tur) Kawasaki 10:13.817, 10 Tom Sykes (Gbr) BMW 10:16.205
Race 2: 1 Alvaro Bautista (Spa) Ducati 31mins 05.590secs, 2 Jonathan Rea (Gbr) Kawasaki 31:15.643, 3 Alex Lowes (Gbr) Yamaha 31:17.958, 4 Michael van der Mark (Ned) Yamaha 31:22.968, 5 Leon Haslam (Gbr) Kawasaki 31:23.108, 6 Marco Melandri (Ita) Yamaha 31:24.515, 7 Sandro Cortese (Ger) Yamaha 31:28.871, 8 Michael Rinaldi (Ita) Ducati 31:34.034, 9 Topak Razgatlioglu (Tur) Kawasaki 31:38.746, 10 Jordi Torres (Spa) Kawasaki 31:38.814
Leading World Championship Standings:
Riders: 1 Alvaro Bautista (Spa) Ducati 124pts, 2 Jonathan Rea (Gbr) Kawasaki 98, 3 Alex Lowes (Gbr) Yamaha 69, 4 Michael van der Mark (Ned) Yamaha 61, 5 Marco Melandri (Ita) Yamaha 54, 6 Leon Haslam (Gbr) Kawasaki 51, 7 Sandro Cortese (Ger) Yamaha 40, 8 Michael Rinaldi (Ita) Ducati 25, 9 Topak Razgatlioglu (Tur) Kawasaki 24, 10 Tom Sykes (Gbr) BMW 19
Manufacturers: 1 Ducati 124pts, 2 Kawasaki 98, 3 Yamaha 74, 4 BMW 25, 5 Honda 13