Rea ‘frustrated, demoralised’ in attempts to battle Bautista; ‘We need power’

Jonathan Rea has asked Kawasaki to bring more power to its ZX-10RR next season after calling his attempts to battle WorldSBK series leader Alvaro Bautista ‘demoralising’ in Portimao.
Alvaro Bautista Ducati, Jonathan Rea Kawasaki, Portimao WorldSBK
Alvaro Bautista Ducati, Jonathan Rea Kawasaki, Portimao WorldSBK

Rea, who failed to secure a WorldSBK victory at Portimao for the first time since 2013 despite starting from pole on two occasions, was relegated to third come the end of all three races.

Now 82 points back in the WorldSBK standings, a seventh world title looks to be a long way away for the Kawasaki rider.

Like Toprak Razgatlioglu who somehow managed to survive Bautista’s intense pressure in Race One and the Superpole Race to claim victory, Rea was also no match for the Spaniard when it came to top speed, often losing over half a second on the start-finish straight. 

Speaking after Saturday's race one, Rea didn’t hold back in his comments about what emotions the battle with Bautista has given him.

"We need power; riding there was really frustrating," said Rea. "When Alvaro came past, I can’t do anything. 

"It’s frustrating; the quantity of risk to take to just be there. It’s not enough right now; I can make the difference when I have new tyres, but we need to improve when the tyre drops a little bit, I need the bike to work. 

"That’s where we’re struggling the most right now. We need a big step on the engine side to race with Alvaro right now. It’s demoralising as a rider, completely demoralising."

In all seven of his seasons with Kawasaki, Rea has never been ruled out of title contention until the final round - this includes him winning six titles, some of which were wrapped up well before the season ended.

However, depending on results, Rea could be ruled out of the championship following the next round in Argentina, a weekend that is expected to suit Bautista and Ducati. 

Jonathan Rea, Portuguese WorldSBK race2, 9 October
Jonathan Rea, Portuguese WorldSBK race2, 9 October

"I never think about the Championship, anything is possible," said Rea when discussing his underdog mentality. "We’ve got nothing to lose now but that doesn’t mean that we change our mentality, as I do my best every weekend. 

"There’s no pressure; Argentina will be very difficult with the long back straight, but we don’t know what conditions we will face out there. 

"The track is quite green as there’s not a lot of track activity. I’ll try to enjoy these last rounds, as they’re all flyaways. I have to go in as the hunter, the underdog and do my best."

With five wins to his name this season - Rea has not won in any of the last 18 races however - 2022 could turn out to be his least successful yet. 

With nine races to go Rea needs four victories to match his tally of nine which was set in 2016. Anything less than that and 2022 will be his worst season since joining Kawasaki in 2015.

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