The six-time WorldSBK champion has returned to being mistake-free so far this season, and although Rea was unable to challenge Alvaro Bautista and Toprak Razgatlioglu in race one, Sunday was a very different story. 

Having made immediate improvements during warm-up, Rea sustained a consistent challenge to Razgatlioglu as it forced a mistake out of the Yamaha rider with just four corners left of the Superpole race. 

Sure, luck was a big part of Rea’s third [now four] win in Estoril since 2020, however, race two was another masterclass from the Kawasaki rider. 

Clearly a favourite to win the title following the opening three rounds, Rea showed Bautista that he could overcome an alarming top speed deficit to beat the Spaniard.

As has been the case since Bautista joined WorldSBK in 2019, corner entry and exit is a massive advantage for Rea, in fact, it was again the main factor as to why he could overhaul Bautista on the final lap. 

Rea steals Bautista’s ‘cards’

Following his race one success, Bautista said ‘I played my cards’ to perfection - included using the Panigale V4 R’s power to pip Razgatlioglu over the line.

But come race two, Rea used a different strategy to also play cards of his own: "I played my cards especially on the last lap. The race was quite stressful. We had this sea mist all race, especially in the last section of the circuit, going into Turns, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 so my visor was full of water and after a few laps behind Toprak, we had grip so I just convinced myself that it was dry. 

"When Alvaro came past, it was like the seriousness of the race just switched on, so I knew I had to be there, to go with him. 

"He did a really good job and I could use his slipstream on the start straight just to claw back a few kilometres, even though he was going away it was just enough to keep me there. I made a good Turn 1, by Turn 3 I was already there so I could be calmer at the rest of the track just to stay there. 

"When it came to plotting a last lap move, I made a mistake with two laps to go and I had to arrive. It was really tough. I thought ‘should I make a big lunge into six?’ but he had such good traction through Turns 4 and 5 and along the back straight so it would’ve been too much." 

Traction the key to Rea possibly winning a seventh WorldSBK title?

Whether it was Aragon, Assen or Estoril, Rea has a significant advantage over his two title rivals. 

Traction was allowing Rea to get alongside Razgatlioglu before the finish line was even taken [race one and Superpole race], while it surprisingly helped him remain in the slipstream of Bautista throughout race two. 

Rea added: "My mechanical traction from six was incredible. Parked the bike on the apex of Turn 7 and saw what I could do. He cut back again and then I thought about the chicane. Just go, park it on the apex, and try to cover my line. 

"It was enough although I had a big slide at the last corner. I thought he was going to get me on the line, so I tried to make myself as small as possible. 

"It was really, really exciting especially when you come out on top in a race like that."