Jonathan Rea believes he had a 'higher pace' than Tom Sykes, but praised his team-mate for his staunch defence of second position in both races at Laguna Seca.

Starting from fifth on the grid, Rea made good starts to run third straight away, but would come up against a stiff opponent in Sykes as he staunchly defended second position from his Kawasaki team-mate.

Indeed, it would take, what Rea himself called, 'aggressive' moves to get past his team-mate, but on the three occasions he did edge in front, Sykes had an immediate response to reclaim the position.

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Though disappointed not to get the better of Sykes, particularly as he felt he was the faster rider, Rea was satisfied with his brace of third places in the context of the title battle.

"I tried a lot but there was nothing I could do to go through on Tom in race one. He also had a good pace but I am sure I had a higher pace. I just could not through him. I tried a few times and ran wide and it was very clear if I was to stick a pass it had to be an aggressive one and in the last laps I did not get an opportunity. He was riding quite smart.

"In the final corner I was a little bit behind and it was one of those where you had to be clever as well, because 16 points is a lot better than zero. We also had a good pace in race two but it was a little bit my fault because I made too many mistakes.

"Tom and I both lost a lot of time to Chaz when the rain was coming but we ended up with a really good pace together. Today we played the long game a little bit and third is where I could finish."

Though his 'worst' results of the season, Rea still holds a mammoth 125 point lead in the standings with four rounds and eight races remaining.