On the day of Alvaro Bautista's return to success, there's another rider celebrating. We're obviously talking about Johnny Rea, who bids farewell to Portimao with an even more prosperous booty. In Race 2, the Cannibal might not have won, but it doesn't matter much, since a second place behind the Spanish rider is increasingly paving the way to a fifth world title.
"I felt good with the bike today. In fact, I was really confident," began Rea. "I had good sensations in the mixed section, but I also felt a bit of pressure that accompanied me before the race. My priority was not to make mistakes and to avoid stressing the tires too much. In fact, you could see that Razgagtlioglu had problems with tire wear in the last six laps."
Rea smiles big.
"The team worked well here in Portimao, so much so that we were able to make progress. We fought hard in all three races and, in the end, the result can only be a positive one. It's true that I didn't win Race 2, but I took home a second place."
One aspect that impressed Rea was how competitive Ducati was in the straight that leads to Turn 1. One wonders if the fairings could also be useful to Kawasaki.
"We don't need them. If anything, we could use an extra 25 hp."
The Cannibal cuts it short, and focuses on the weekend.
"This track is strange. The rider makes a difference on the bike's set-up. The Panigale V4 is probably a new benchmark in this World Championship, but we're not working hard to be competitive, and I'm enthusiastic and proud of what I've done."
Meanwhile, at Magny-Cours, the Kawasaki rider celebrate his fifth world title.
"I think it's quite surreal, but I believe that, in the last five races, the team and I have done an extraordinary job. Right now, I only have everything to lose. The team told me to stay calm several times but, inside, I know that I have to give it my all on every circuit. Personally, I'm very satisfied with this margin, given that it's something unimaginable for me after the start of the season."
In France, Rea's ideas are clear about what he has to do.
"I want to win for sure. I know we have what it takes to be strong. Maybe we'll struggle on the straight. But there are several sections where we can enhance the character of our bike."