Jonathan Rea striving for 'perfection' at penultimate World Superbike round at Portimao in Portugal

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Jonathan Rea is striving for ‘perfection’ at Portimao in Portugal in his final races for Kawasaki in the World Superbike Championship.

The Ulster rider will make the move to the Pata Yamaha team for the 2024 season, replacing Toprak Razgatlioglu, who has signed for the factory BMW squad.

Six-time champion Rea has a fantastic record at Portimao, where he made his World Superbike debut on the Ten Kate Honda in 2008 and finished fourth in his maiden race after qualifying on the front row.

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The 36-year-old, who has amassed 13 victories at the spectacular Portuguese track, was fourth fastest in free practice on Friday.

​Jonathan Rea has won 13 times in his World Superbike career at Portimao in Portugal​Jonathan Rea has won 13 times in his World Superbike career at Portimao in Portugal
​Jonathan Rea has won 13 times in his World Superbike career at Portimao in Portugal

Rea is coming into the penultimate round after a run of solid results following the summer break, including nine successive podiums until he had to settle for fourth in the final race of the weekend at the previous round at Motorland Aragon in Spain last weekend.

“Portimao is a circuit that I really enjoy and I have had some great races there,” Rea said.

“The nature of the track is incredible and it is unique. It reminds me of my days of motocrossing with its undulations, blind corners and off-camber sections.

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“It is a very challenging track; you are always in pursuit of the perfect lap around Portimao. You always feel that you could do something that little bit better.

“We will try to search for perfection this weekend after a string of solid race weekends,” added Rea, who has consolidated third in the championship ahead of Italy’s Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha), although the Ballyclare man is a long way behind Bautista and Razgatlioglu.

“We have to keep our sights on the podium, enjoy riding the bike and work hard in free practices to be fast and also consistent in race conditions.

“Portimao is an event that we always have a lot of travelling support at from back home, so I am looking forward to that. Hopefully we can go out and bag some big points.”

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Championship leader Alvaro Bautista set the pace on the Ducati from American Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW), with Michael Ruben Rinaldi third ( Ducati) ahead of Rea.

Razgatlioglu, second in the standings and 44 points behind Bautista, could only manage ninth on the Pata Yamaha.

The first race of the weekend takes place on Saturday afternoon at 14:00 BST.

On Sunday, the Superpole race is at 11:00 BST with Race Two at 14:00 BST.