Jonathan Rea says he would have been on the front row for the tenth round of the World Superbike Championship had a false neutral not lost him critical time in Sepang.

The Ulsterman, who can mathematically wrap up the title before the summer break if he out-scores his rivals by more than 25 points this weekend, faces a task to complete that objective after hitting a false neutral that lost him time at turn nine.

Unable to recover the ground, Rea believes he had the form to qualify on the front row at least, but was nonetheless remains satisfied with his pace from row three and seventh.

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"During Superpole, in Turn 9, when I shifted to first gear I found neutral. I could not stop the bike and it was really difficult to engage first gear. In the end I blipped the throttle and found it but there was a big reaction from the bike and I went wide. That ruined my best lap there. I pushed really hard to recover the time and had another little moment in the last corner.

"It was difficult because we had the pace to be on the front row. Even my ideal time, if you take the race tyre sector into account, is third fastest, so I am a little bit frustrated because it makes the races a little bit harder tomorrow. Not impossible, but harder. My guys have still given me a good bike with the limited amount of time we have had in the dry."

Indeed, Rea believes his riding style, which majors on tyre preservation, will see him prove stronger during the second-half of the races around a circuit where longevity is key.

"My riding style and where the setting of the bike has gone this weekend means I am feeling very confident that we can have at least some tyre left at the end compared to our rivals.

"I expect to finish the race strongly but it is going to be difficult in the first laps. Not as difficult as Laguna because this track presents a lot more passing opportunities."