Jonathan Rea has conceded he never thought he had the pace to challenge Alvaro Bautista in the opening Phillip Island race but was pleased with securing his pre-race target of second place to start his 2019 World Superbike campaign.

Rea grabbed pole position for Kawasaki but lost his lead on the opening lap to an early Bautista attack. The reigning world champion came under consistent pressure from new team-mate Leon Haslam plus Pata Yamaha’s Alex Lowes and BMW’s Tom Sykes and in the process lost touch with the runaway leader.

But Rea accepts he didn’t have the pace to match the Racing Ducati rider going on this week’s test and practice times at the Australian circuit and second place acted as a satisfying result.

“I am very happy with my race, to be honest. Looking from Monday through Tuesday at the tests, I thought the best target we could hope for was second, and in the end we achieved that,” Rea said.

“We arrived at the end of the race with a good tyre and that was the main target today. Now we have 22 laps of race data we can really understand to make some improvements tomorrow.”

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With tyre conversation often playing a key role in races at Phillip Island, Rea says he’s keen to build on the development progress for Kawasaki at the opening round before heading to “normal tracks” later this season.

“The race today was just to conserve the tyre,” he said. “The target was to ride very smoothly and arrive at the end of the race. When you see Superpole you see our real potential, in the winter tests and during the season at ‘normal’ tracks.”



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