Having qualified just tenth on the grid after 'chasing their tails', Jonathan Rea admits he didn't have great expectations for Sunday's Jerez World Superbike races.

But a change in engine spec and front end set-up for his Pata Honda saw the Ulsterman work steadily forwards in both races, crossing the line in fourth and fifth places.

"I'm really happy with today because it was hard to have high expectations last night, knowing we had to make a big change," said Rea. "But when we reverted to the previous spec engine and made some changes to the front of the bike I was able to ride the way I like without having to change my style too much.

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"Starting from tenth on the grid really didn't help me to use the tyre to its full potential and gain lap times at the beginning; but in the end my pace was really, really strong in both races. We can take a lot of positives but, to be honest, we were chasing our tails a little earlier in the weekend."

The results mean that Rea, tipped to join Kawasaki next year, retains his third place in the championship by 18 points over Aprilia's Marco Melandri with two rounds to go.

Rea's team-mate Leon Haslam finished seventh and eighth in the pair of 20-lap outings, run in cooler conditions than the earlier practice and qualifying sessions.

"In race one I had a terrible start and struggled a bit. When we got to half race distance I think I went the wrong way with the buttons and made hard work for myself in the second half of the race," he said.

"We made better steps in race two but I just couldn't get past Loris [Baz]. I made a few mistakes but always caught him back within a lap. It was good to have a battle but it would have been nice to get by him and maybe get up to Eugene [Laverty].

"But I was happy enough - we made good steps between the two races electronically. We knew this round would be tough but we've come away with two top eights and, even though I would prefer to fight with the next group, I enjoyed a battle so, all-in-all not too bad."