It just wasn't my weekend, admits Rea after Spanish controversy
The sixth round of the World Superbike Championship at Jerez in Spain proved to be a rollercoaster ride for four-time champion Jonathan Rea over the weekend.
In the opening race in a last-lap, last-corner battle with Alex Lowes for third position, the Ulsterman clipped the Pata Yamaha of his rival as he attempted an inside pass.
Lowes crashed out with Kawasaki ace Rea apparently third behind Championship leader Alvaro Bautista and Michael van der Mark.
However, after letting the race result stand, the stewards reconvened and penalised Rea one position, relegating him to fourth. Worse still, they also moved the Templepatrick rider from pole position to the back of the grid for the Sprint race.
Rea said: "I saw Alex run slightly wide, so I decided to do a cutback and go inside and unfortunately I didn't make it and Alex went down. I was devastated and won't go into what happened afterwards. It was a real unfortunate racing incident.
"My race from the start was horrible, but I'm so, so, so sorry that he went down, it was really not my intention. What can I say, it's the last corner at Jerez and I didn't mean to make contact."
Lowes said: "Jonny made a big error of judgment and took me off. I'm gutted."
Rea then shone in the 10-lap Sprint race by storming back from 18th to finish in fourth position behind Bautista, who was taking his 13th win from 15 races, Van der Mark and Marco Melandri.
Lowes again crashed out, on lap four.
In the final 20-lap race at the meeting, Rea started from the second row and was up to second at the end of lap one when race and Championship leader Bautista inexplicably lost the front end of his Ducati at Turn One and crashed.
He rejoined the race some eight laps down but failed to score any points.
Lowes had his third crash of the weekend on the opening lap, remounting to score two points.
Rea became embroiled in a battle with Van der Mark for the lead, which changed hands several times before the Dutchman eventually pulled clear.
On lap five, Melandri took out Chaz Davies, leaving Turkish rider Toprak Razgatlioglu in a safe third.
In the end, Van der Mark had better pace than Rea and won by 3.548 seconds, the race stopped a lap and a half short after Ryuichi Kiyonari crashed out and covered the track in gravel.
At the end of the meeting, Rea had clawed back two points on double winner Bautista, who now leads on 300 points, 41 ahead of the Ulsterman going into the next round at Misano in Italy in a fortnight's time.
Rea said: "I try not to think about the Championship right now.
"Realistically, it's heading in one direction. We just have to keep working and I was happy with my guys this weekend, they improved the set-up for today and it was good.
"Alvaro showed he's not super-human, made a mistake and crashed. I tried to pick up the pieces, but Mikey (Van der Mark) had a better pace and it just wasn't our weekend."