While Race 2 wasn’t much better last Sunday, Race 1 was unlike anything we’ve seen in a long time for the six-time WorldSBK champion as he struggled to remain inside the top ten.
Rea, who suffered a somewhat disastrous start to his title hopes at Phillip Island after missing out on the top five in both Sunday races, was again a long way behind Alvaro Bautista and Toprak Razgatlioglu in Mandalika.
Rea finished Race 1 in ninth position after being overtaken by Dominque Aegerter on the final lap, and speaking afterwards, Rea pointed to front traction being a concern.
“I love the circuit but where I’m shit today; I love them corners. They’re some of the best corners in any track. We need to get that front traction sorted,” added the Kawasaki rider.”
Rea was referencing the second sector which consists of five corners in quick succession.
But when reflecting on the overall result, not just the issues he’s facing aboard his ZX10-RR, Rea was less than impressed.
Rea said: “Potentially one of my worst results of my career, maybe. I can’t [even] remember battling for top tens with Honda.
“When Mikey [Van Der Mark] passed me, his bike was quite planted actually on corner entry. He could stop quite well and then Honda seemed to have made a step with Vierge.
“When he came passed – no disrespect – but it was very easy. He was not really moving on the bike.
“Clearly they have made a step. Now all the customer Ducatis are fast. We need to improve. I feel we have improved and the team is working so hard. But we need more weapons.”
Next up for Rea is a trip to Assen, which is his most successful circuit on the calendar with 17 wins.
Should the Kawasaki star return to top form then a title challenge could still be on the cards, but if struggles continue at the Dutch TT circuit then it will present the Japanese manufacturer with a clear sign that drastic improvements to their package must be made, although a fair argument could be made that time to hit the panic button has already been.
“I hope to be,” said Rea when talking about having the chance to fight for the win at Assen. “If I go to Assen and fight for a top ten place I’ll be devastated. This is new territory for me. We need to improve.”