2018 Superbike World Championship Round 5 - Superpole and Race 1:
KRT riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes scored first and second places respectively in race one at the fifth round of the WorldSBK Championship in Imola, after breaking free of their main competitors in the first few laps.
In warm and sticky conditions Rea started the first 19-lap race of the WorldSBK race weekend from pole position, having secured his 16th career Superpole just a couple of hours before the 1pm race start.
Jonathan led from flag-to-flag with only his own team-mate Sykes for company in the first few laps, before Rea’s pace took him to an eventual margin of victory of 3.755 seconds. His latest win was his fourth of the season, all of them coming at different circuits.
After gathering a lot of data in practice on Friday, Sykes and his crew found a strong set-up on Saturday morning and Tom ended up second in Superpole qualifying.
Getting away from the start line ahead of all his rivals except Rea, Tom pushed his pace but realised that second was going to be his best possible result and he took 20 valuable championship points.
Sykes’ finished over three seconds ahead of his closest podium challenger, and is now fourth in the championship standings.
Rea’s fourth success of the year was the 58th of his career and takes him to within one victory of sharing the all-time record for WorldSBK race wins with Carl Fogarty.
Regular BSB rider Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) started from 11th place on the grid and finished his first race of the WorldSBK season ninth.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “Going to the front from the start was my only plan today. My pace has been a little bit extra all weekend so the best thing for me to was to set my own rhythm and not get involved in anyone else’s race. There was a five lap plan to make a small gap but I had more than one second of advantage, so I was happy to ride to my own pit-board after that. When the gap was stagnant I could make a small effort, without taking many risks, because the temperature came up quite a lot today. The bike behaved differently because of this, so I was just trying to understand all the limits of the bike through the race and bring it home. It felt like a long race but I had a good solid rhythm, and that was enough.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “I was fairly happy with the bike set-up and the pace was pretty good. Yesterday looked worse on paper than it was, because we did a lot of trial and error testing, but today we put it all together. I just missed a few tenths of a second compared to Jonathan. I had clear track for much of today so I was able to use the bike in the best way possible. I just followed the warnings from the front and rear tyres and in some areas I was not quite as settled on the front. We need to improve just in some areas tomorrow. We will work to make a few little set-up changes to enable me to push a little bit faster at the beginning of race two.”
2018 Superbike World Championship Round 5 - Race 2:
In taking his first double race win of the season at Imola today Jonathan Rea (KRT) made WorldSBK history by equalling the all-time record of 59 career race wins. He now shares that honour with WorldSBK legend Carl Fogarty. Tom Sykes (KRT) finished a fighting third in race two, after sharing a third row starting position with Rea.
After a masterful race one win for Rea from pole position on Saturday, Sunday’s 19-lap race delivered a victory of a different kind. Starting from ninth, and not getting away as cleanly as his team-mate Sykes, Rea had to put in several passes before getting into the slipstream of early leader Chaz Davies.
Rea was in second place after four laps, and sat behind Davies for much of the race before deciding to make a final pass into the Variante Alta, on lap 13. Rea put in two blistering laps with clear track ahead of him and eventually won by a margin of 4.019 seconds. He has now won half for the races in 2018, but this is the first time has been able to win the second race of any weekend, rather than the first.
He now has the chance to become the stand-alone record holder for race wins at the next round, at his home circuit of Donington.
For Tom Sykes a less than perfect front end feel in race two held him back down the order for some time, even after he had made a strong launch from his seventh place grid position.
As some other riders fell Sykes used all his experience to catch and pass Xavi Fores with three laps to go, and took his fourth podium of the 2018 season. In doing so he has moved up to third in the championship rankings.
Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) just missed out on a point after running off track late in the race, being classified 16th.
In the championship standings, after five of 13 rounds, Rea leads Davies by 47 points, 209 to 162, with Sykes now third on 137.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team rider): “We got it done and it was probably the best race win of the season. Coming from ninth on the grid, it was so difficult. I was not so confident I could win today. In fact, it was Fabien Foret, who kept talking me round. I think I was over-thinking the first lap a lot - and my track position - coming from the outside of row three. I lost places in the first corner but eventually I was able to stick in some passes. I wasted no time so when I arrived with Chaz I was able to relax a little bit behind him and understand where I could pass him. I tried two or three times, but he was determined to come back. The final time I made it through, into the Variante Alta, it was time to put my head down, set two clean laps and make a gap. It was really nice to equal the record total of race wins, and with a long season left I feel confident that I can extend my win tally, and that is super-nice.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “It is positive that I am now third in the championship, so we are coming back. We had a difficult feeling with the front of the bike today and it was not easy to do what I wanted on the entry to corners. That meant I suffered with rear traction on the exits, so it was difficult for me to manage the race. I kept pushing and I could see the guys in front of me had better overall speed but, strategically, I tried to come back at them and slowly, slowly got there. Michael van der Mark made a mistake and he and Marco Melandri were out of the race and that made it easier for me to manage. On a ‘bad’ day I was able to take a podium so I have to be happy for this.”
2018 Superbike World Championship Points after Round 5:
- JONATHAN REA 209 KAWASAKI
- CHAZ DAVIES 162 DUCATI
- TOM SYKES 137 KAWASAKI
- MARCO MELANDRI 131 DUCATI
- XAVI FORES 124 DUCATI
- MICHAEL VAN DER MARK 113 YAMAHA
- ALEX LOWES 92 YAMAHA
- TOPRAK RAZGATLIOGLU 58 KAWASAKI
- JORDI TORRES 52 MV AGUSTA
- LORIS BAZ 52 BMW
- LEON CAMIER 4 2HONDA
- MICHAEL RUBEN RINALDI 39 DUCATI
- LORENZO SAVADORI 33 APRILIA
- ROMÁN RAMOS 32 KAWASAKI
- LEANDRO MERCADO 31 KAWASAKI
- EUGENE LAVERTY 27 APRILIA
- PJ JACOBSEN1 7 HONDA
- JAKE GAGNE 17 HONDA
- DAVIDE GIUGLIANO 11 APRILIA
- YONNY HERNANDEZ 11 KAWASAKI
- ONDREJ 2 JEZEK