Rea took victory in the first flag-to-flag race of the year on Saturday, which was his first WorldSBK win since round three of the season in Estoril.

However, Bautista’s dry tyre gamble in the Superpole Race led him to victory before the Spaniard got the better of Rea until a red flag ended Race 2 with five laps remaining. 

Close in terms of performance throughout the weekend, Rea and Bautista once again delivered a show in Race 2. But after finishing more than 100 points behind Bautista in the championship, Rea had to concede that Ducati has now become the package to beat.

"It’s the story of our season really. As frustrating as it is, huge kudos to Ducati," said Rea. "They’ve really excelled in their engine performance, let’s say, this year. 

"They’re really making us step up. It’s a good thing. This weekend, for sure, we crossed all the Ts and dotted all the Is in all the other areas of the setup. My bike was very stable on the brakes. 

"We were able to focus on the mechanical traction but just missing that little bit they have on the straight. The bikes were quite balanced over a lap. 

"The lap times were quite similar and, to be fair to Alvaro, it’s quite difficult to lead around here especially in the wind so he was creating a good reference for me, just to be there."

While a hat-trick of wins looked like a realistic possibility following a well timed pit stop in Race 1 that led to his first victory in 25 races, Rea was still content with his podium finishes on Sunday after giving ‘everything’.

"We know the result. I gave everything," added the six-time WorldSBK champion. "We can be quite satisfied with our efforts this weekend to go 1-3-2. 

"Good overall points for the weekend. The conditions were almost like nothing I’ve ever seen in my career! Tyre decisions, pit stops, red flag in Race 2 with the conditions coming in. 

"From my weekend, I’m really happy with my team and the way I’m riding the bike. Even in Race 2 with Alvaro, I felt stronger everywhere but the start-finish line. 

"They were taking so much time, but through Turn 1, Turn 2 and even Turn 3, with the traction, an area we’ve really struggled with in the past, I had more grip and the tyre was very linear. 

"Big thanks to my team. Looking forward now to a little bit of rest before we start focusing on 2023. We can be satisfied with our work this year."