Heading into this weekend’s penultimate round of the 2021 World Superbike season in San Juan, Argentina, Jonathan Rea’s crew chief Pere Riba believes all is still to play for, but that taking it one race at a time is crucial. 

Portimao was a weekend unlike any we’ve seen thus far in 2021, a weekend that provided dramatic momentum swings in the championship. 

After two races it looked like Rea’s dominance over the World Superbike class was close to being over due to back-to-back crashes, however, a mechanical issue (second in three rounds) derailed series leader Toprak Razgatlioglu’s race two, a race Rea eventually went on to win. 

It means a near 50 point lead got reduced to 24, and with six races left - 124 points still up for grabs, nothing is out of the realms of possibility. 

One person who has seen Rea win all six of his world championships in very different styles is crew chief Riba, who called Portimao ‘probably the most difficult weekend in my life’.

"Personally for myself, it has been probably the most difficult weekend in my life," said Riba. 

"As you know, this year the championship is very tough, Toprak [Razgatlioglu] is doing a great job and Jonny also, and we are fighting. 

"One time it is one rider, the other time it is the other. We arrived at Portimao still with chances in the three races with a lot of points. 

"What happened in race one was very tough. Especially for Jonny because he knew he could do a good job and we knew that we had the rhythm to do the triple. 

"It was very hard to lose 25 points and then, at the same time, Toprak won, so you lose 100% of those 25 points. We spoke with Jonny, and we tried to keep the motivation as high as possible and it was very tough."

For Rea, Riba and the whole Kawasaki team, the final two rounds will determine whether Rea can make it seven from seven with the Japanese manufacturer, or if Razgatlioglu can become the first rider to beat Rea since 2015. 

Razgatlioglu has his first match points this weekend in San Juan, a track that the riders have only been to once (2019). 

But with anything still possible, not looking beyond each race is now ‘our philosophy’.

Riba added: "Our philosophy will be race by race now. Race one in Argentina will be like the last one. It doesn’t mean you have put it all out there and be crazy, but we must do race by race and try to get the best and then try to finish in front of our competitor. 

"I believe that with still six races, many things can happen and after Sunday morning at Portimao, we were nearly 50 points back, now we are 24 again. 

"Who was thinking that this could happen? I don’t think anyone was. With six races to go, there’s 124 points up for grabs, which means there’s a lot. 

"Anything can happen; of course, we will try to keep fighting like always and we will try to help Jonny as much as we can to try and give the best tools, let’s see. It will be very interesting…"