The sheer scale of Alvaro Bautista’s win in WorldSBK race one at Phillip Island shocked everyone, but nobody being able to get near the Spanish rider was not a surprise for four-time champion Jonathan Rea.
“I am very happy with my race, to be honest,” Rea told bikesportnews.com. “Looking from Monday through Tuesday at the tests, I thought the best target we could hope for was second, and in the end we achieved that.
“We arrived at the end of the race with tyre and that was the main target today. Now we have 22 laps of good data we can really understand how to make some improvements for tomorrow. The race today was super-boring because I had just to conserve the tyre.
“I am riding very tight and very sacred because of what has happened in the past, here, to me last year, and what has happened in the past to me at Donington. Also this weekend, with many riders blistering tyres on Monday, Tuesday and yesterday.
“So the target was just to ride very smoothly and arrive at the end of the race. I am very relieved now because I was very nervous at the start of the race.”
Rea reported no tyre problems after the race, which was run at less than full pace for many, if not winner Bautista.
“Thankfully the tyre was good but the pace was high 1’31s and 32s,” said Rea. “But that is what I need to do to finish. It seems like it is the most bizarre race ever. It seems like it is the same was every year for us. We ride 60 per cent of our potential to arrive at the end of the race.
“When you see Superpole you see our real potential, in the winter tests and during the season at ‘normal’ tracks. But just here, I don’t know why the way our bike is using the tyre, and most people are using the tyre, is very aggressive.”
Rea considered that it was not just him that was having to think tyres, tyres and tyres. “All riders apart from Alvaro, it looks like,” observed Rea. “All riders behind me in the race could be much faster, but they weren’t they finished behind me. So I am sure everybody was looking after the tyre like in the past so that was my main focus.”
The immediate question for Rea is, can he do anything about Bautista’s 16 second advantage near the end of race one, in Sunday’s race? “For tomorrow, no, but the short race yes,” said Rea. “It won’t be 16 seconds in the short race. In the long race… it is like poker. I can go much faster, if you look at all my race runs on the weekend, but I won’t be guaranteed to finish the race.
“For me this is a long championship and it is more important for me to come out of here healthy and with points than not. So to be honest my target is the same. Go out finish the race, grab as many points as I can and move on. I expect them (Ducati) to be strong all season but I expect to be much stronger myself. My expectation is that we can get back in business when we go back in Europe, or get away from this type of circuit and track.”