Jonathan Rea has admitted he was anxious during the Misano opener held in thunderstorms having completed very few wet laps with his 2019 Kawasaki ZX-10RR leaving him without a comfortable wet set-up.

The reigning World Superbike champion produced the ideal getaway in the rain-hit and red-flagged race one in Rimini by taking holeshot before breaking away at the front with Pata Yamaha’s Alex Lowes.

Rea relinquished the lead to Lowes on Lap 7, only to see him crash out two laps later trying to build a gap at the front, leaving the Kawasaki rider with a useful lead on BMW’s Tom Sykes.

Despite his advantage, Rea conceded he rarely felt comfortable throughout the wet race having gone into it blind on set-up with his new ZX-10RR after completing limited running in wet conditions this year.

“I had done next to zero laps in the wet this season, even in winter testing,” Rea said. “The first time we came across the wet was in morning warm-up at Imola.

“The gamble to stay inside the box in the wet morning warm up today still paid off, but we did not expect the rain clouds to come for the race.

“I was very nervous as we did not really have a wet set-up. So we just tried to maximise our potential, ride my own race and our bike works well in these conditions.

“It is a very stable bike but the track was changing lap-to-lap. Sometimes we had a lot of surface water, sometimes zero surface water. You need much more concentration in a wet race, because the bike is moving much more underneath you and you have to be very precise, especially with the white lines and the kerbs.

“When Alex came past I was not prepared to take that risk to go that fast. When I was leading the race I tried to manage my rhythm and the gap to behind. Arturo my mechanic was super-good with my pit-board so I could enjoy the last lap.”

Rea’s victory, his first since the Imola Superpole race, sees him cut Alvaro Bautista’s championship lead down to 32 points.

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