Title race far from over yet, insists Rea after extending his advantage
Jonathan Rea rounded off a successful weekend at Laguna Seca by finishing second behind Chaz Davies in the final World Superbike Championship race at the Californian venue and extending his title advantage.
The Ulsterman, going for his fifth consecutive title, saw Championship rival Alvaro Bautista score no points after crashing in the opening two races and completing only a couple of laps in the final race due to the shoulder injury he sustained during his Superpole accident.
Rea now has an 81-point lead over the Spaniard with four meetings - 12 races - remaining.
Rea had trailed Bautista, who won the opening 11 races of the season, by 61 points going into Donington Park. A treble (75 points) there with Bautista scoring just 22 points, added to this latest double victory and second-place finish with the Spaniard scoring zero points, has seen a massive turnaround in the Championship ahead of the summer break.
Rea said: "I would never have believed you if you told me I would come to Laguna Seca and take two wins, set a new lap record and take the overall (second in the final race).
"It's been a great weekend. We made a very small change to the bike between the Superpole race and race two, but the feeling was completely different and I had a few small front wheel warnings as I tried to go with Chaz (Davies), just enough for me to roll it back a bit and think about finishing.
"I haven't thought much about the Championship to be honest. Yes, we have a lead and need to be clever. The competition is tough and with 12 races left we'll just take it one race at a time.
"Right now, we try and ride the waves, but the tide can turn very quickly, as we have seen. The races come in quick succession after the break, so we need to be ready."
Rea is correct in saying that this title race is far from over.
Out of the four circuits remaining, Bautista has not raced at three of them - Portimao, Magny Cours and San Juan in Argentina - although he will get plenty of testing miles before the races. Also, the Argentinian venue will be new to everyone.
So, how did we get to this point? Series rookie Bautista, on board the all-new Ducati Panigale V4, seemed invincible as he won the first 11 races in which Rea finished second 10 times and third once.
Bautista's season turned with a crash at Jerez, another at Misano, a 150mph high-side at Donington and now two more crashes and non-finishes in America.
Rea has scored in every race to date and the old saying of points mean prizes has seen him amass 433 to Bautista's 352 with 248 still available.
More twists and turns are set to come as Rea chases an incredible five successive World Superbike Championships.