The six-time world champion overcame a brake adjustment issue to save his best for last with a fourth-place finish on Sunday afternoon.

But the Kawasaki star crossed the line a distant 15 seconds from Ducati’s triple winner Alvaro Bautista.

“On the sighting lap I tried to adjust my brake and the adjuster had stuck, so as soon as the brakes had heated up the lever was coming right back to the bar and I couldn’t stop in some areas,” Rea told

“But I couldn’t do much more honestly. Without the brake [issue] I’m sure I could challenge a bit better, but 5-5-4 for the weekend is not what we dreamed of.”

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Asked if it had been a case of damage limitation Rea, now 169 points behind reigning champion Bautista, replied: “Damage limitation sounds like we’ve got something to lose. And the reality is we don’t.

“Ducati are so far ahead. Alvaro… he and his bike are an incredible pair and are at ease at the front. I think he could win by even more.”

Bautista romped to victory by a margin of 5.2s and 8.4s in the full-length races at Misano.

But Rea’s first concern is that, while Bautista completed the 21-lap distance 5.971s faster than his victory time last year, and Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu was 4.7s quicker on the way to runner-up on both occasions, he beat his 2022 race time by less than one second.

“We just have to focus on ourselves. The one thing we can’t accept is doing a worse job than last year and this year [our] race time hasn’t been much better than last year. So when we do the landmarks, we’re not improving as much as we should,” he said.

“So definitely we need to look at ourselves. Forget about [Bautista and Ducati] because they are in a different race right now.

"But we need to aim at least at Yamaha and Toprak. That should be our benchmark. We’ll keep trying.

“As frustrating as it is, we have to believe in ourselves that we’ll find a way and try to keep challenging for the podium.

Rea explained that, with hindsight, it would have been better to start Sunday's final race with a set-up he had used on Saturday.

"We need to keep working with our ZX-10RR, trying to bridge the gap to the front. It’s too many seconds now to Alvaro," Rea said.

“We need to really understand the root of our problems.

“We went back to a bike [set-up] we had in 2021... Geometries - head pipe positions, offsets, swingarm arm length. Basically the bike ‘triangle’ back to a base we knew.

“But I think the bike I raced [Saturday] was slightly better, not loading the front so much and I was able to be more consistent in the middle of the race.”