Jonathan Rea feels he can go into the off-season in a positive frame of mind after completing a tumultuous 2011 World Superbike Championship campaign with a pair of podium finishes at Portimao.
The Ulsterman came into the 2011 season as one of the favourites, but injuries – including one that ruled him out for four events mid-season – and problems with set-up on the Castrol Honda quickly consigned him out of the running.
However, the introduction of a fly-by-wire system on the CBR1000RR transformed the team's form over the final three rounds, Rea's return to winning ways at Imola and pole positions at Magny-Cours and Portimao contributing to Honda lifting itself off the bottom of the manufacturer standings.
Going on to finish both races in Portugal in third position, Rea was pleased to complete a rollercoaster of a season with a pair of podiums and is now looking forward to the 2012 season when he will take delivery of the new CBR1000RR and welcome a new team-mate in MotoGP exile Hiroshi Aoyama.
“I felt I rode race one just about as well as I could have, but Sylvain showed massive pace at the start before Carlos came by too, so well done to them for their results. It was nice to be able to challenge for victory in both races, although I think in race two it was pretty clear where we were losing out to the others. I felt I rode well and the bike was working great in some sectors, but not in others where we needed it to.
“This year's been such a journey for me, with a lot of ups and downs, so it's just great to go into the off season with no injuries and the bike on the podium here. I'd like to thank everyone who has made the journey with me this season and to the team and all its partners for their support. I can't wait for 2012 to start now.”