Rea ended the opening day of WorldSBK practice at Mandalika in fourth, albeit the six-time champion was over seven tenths down on both Ducati riders.

However, Rea chose not to set a fast time during the closing stages of FP2 which suggests a bit more pace is to come, although it remains to be seen if it’s enough to challenge Rinaldi, Alvaro Bautista and Toprak Razgatlioglu

But when speaking in his media debrief, the first thing Rea spoke about was the lack of grip which has been a constant theme at Mandalika during WorldSBK, but also MotoGP’s visits to the Indonesian circuit.

Rea said: "Track’s got no rubber, it's so dirty. So the first session was a disaster. We destroyed the front tyre. And you know, with the allocation, we just had to be conservative. 

"I chose to only ride the last part of FP1. And even then after a few laps with our normal preferred race tyre, we destroyed it.

"The rear is not perfect, but it was the front tyre. Then in FP2 we focused on a different weight balance on the bike, trying to take weight out of the front, trying to save the front tyre. I think the front tyre is going to define the race.

"So, I mean, in comparison to last year, we've improved this area a little bit in the off season, but still the energy, you know, to be with the others, where our bike makes the time is trail braking and corner entry and if we don't have a stable front, then it is so difficult.

"So we're focusing on that area to improve tomorrow for tyre life. Of course, I expect the track to be better tomorrow. It's going to be more rubber, more clean and then, you know, this should destroy the tyre less."

Rea searching for more pace but ‘I can’t magically try harder’ 

Hoping to get his season on track with a first win of the year, Rea appears to have a difficult task in front of him this weekend.

The Kawasaki rider struggled to a seventh and eighth place results during last Sunday’s double-header, which is a sight we’ve been very unfamiliar with seeing.

But when asked if there’s more to come, Rea said he’s at his limit: "It's my best, you know, I can't just magically find more time or try harder. We need to improve the bike set-up a little bit. The bike is more or less in a good working window. I feel fast. 

"You know, for a lap time, but for consistency we need to improve, especially, you know, after 10 laps when the front tyre’s dropping, I need to improve.

"It’s hard to draw conclusions. I mean, I think we just, we struggled and there’s no easy way to say it. No pointing fingers.

"We used a longer wheelbase on the bike and the bike was much longer when we arrived to Phillip Island in the first few days. 

"We struggled for grip so we shortened everything and from this point forward we were a little bit lost, you know, tyre consumption was down. The bike wasn't turning naturally."