Jonathan Rea felt an overwhelming sense of frustration as the six-time World Superbike Champion’s long wait to get back on the grandstand winning step continued in Argentina.
ea finished third in the Superpole race yesterday at the San Juan circuit and third in race two as Spaniard Alvaro Bautista continued his relentless march to the world title.
The Ducati Bautista rider won Saturday’s opening race and finished second to Toprak Razgatlioglu in the Superpole sprint race. He then capped off the weekend with his 14th win of the season after dominating success in race two.
The former MotoGP rider is now 82 points ahead of Razgatlioglu with two rounds and six races to go.
Kawasaki star Rea remains third and has 16 more points adrift as the embers of his championship prospects all but died out yesterday.
Bautista can now clinch his first World Superbike crown at the penultimate round of the series at Mandalika in Indonesia (November 11-13) if he manages to edge Razgatlioglu by 18 points.
For Rea, his aim before the end of the season at Phillip Island in Australia on November 20 is to end his winless run, which dates back to Estoril in Portugal in May.
“It was a really tough weekend,” admitted Rea, who has won five times this season.
“I expected better as I was strong in the Superpole race. I had no grip on the right side of the tire from the start (in race two) and I haven’t had such bad grip all weekend.
“I just couldn’t stop the bike and it was a case of survival mode.”
Rea had to overhaul teammate Alex Lowes in the closing stages to secure the final grandstand spot after losing ground when he ran wide on lap two, dropping to sixth place.
“Alex had a really good pace so I had to bide my time and plan my move,” Rea said.
“I didn’t have enough today for Alvaro and Toprak and it’s frustrating not to win again.
“I’m looking forward to Indonesia because it’s a good track for me.”
Bautista didn’t get off to the best start, but he fought his way to lead the race on lap four, passing teammate and early leader Michael Ruben Rinaldi, who eventually finished fifth.
The champion-elect prevailed by 3.3 seconds over Razgatlioglu, who was more than six seconds ahead of Rea.
“It was a difficult race because it was very hot, more difficult than yesterday,” said Bautista.
“It was important not to make any mistakes and we fought for the win in two races today, so I’m really happy.”
Lowes was alone in fourth ahead of Rinaldi, while Xavi Vierge got the better of factory Honda teammate Iker Lecuona for sixth.
Eugene Laverty was the top independent driver in 11th on the Bonovo Action BMW. Laverty finished 14th in Saturday’s race and 19th in the Superpole race.
Razgatlioglu won the 10-lap Superpole race 0.6 seconds clear of Bautista, repairing a costly crash in Saturday’s race.
The two men clashed in the final laps, but it was Razgatlioglu who got the verdict after a last-lap duel.
Rea finished third, just 0.2 seconds behind Bautista, with the top three covered by less than a second.