Superbike World Championship Round 5 - Race 1:
The planned 19-lap WorldSBK race at Imola was counted back to lap 12 for its final result after a red flag incident halted the contest, with Jonathan Rea (KRT) ending up second and his team-mate Tom Sykes fourth. With one more Imola race to run on Sunday Rea leads the championship with a new total of 215 points and Sykes is still second overall with 144.
After Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea had finished Superpole qualifying in second and third place respectively they each had designs on a podium finish in the first race, but neither was quite able to match the pace of Superpole and eventual race one winner Chaz Davies.
Rea, who first had to pass the fast starting Marco Melandri on lap five, was then in a position to keep up a high pace, but he could not draw closer to Davies. Looking to consolidate his championship lead and get the best result possible Rea scored 20 points for second place, a reward he was presented with earlier than expected after a crash for another competitor brought out the red flags.
For Sykes a loss of traction compared to his previous sessions on track at Imola was an unexpected blow to his chances of shooting for full points. He was in a close fourth place when the red flags came out, ready to make a move on Melandri in the final stages. After the red flags he was classified f ourth and is still second in the championship overall.
With another race to take place on Sunday 14th, and again starting at 1pm, Rea and Sykes will have a second chance to score heavily at Imola. Under the new grid rules for 2017, Sykes’ fourth place means he will start from pole on Sunday while Rea has to go back to the third row, in eighth place, after finishing second in race one.
Jonathan Rea - World Superbike Championship Round 5 - Imola
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “In previous races I felt that if they could go faster I could go faster, that there was a little bit left in my pocket. This race I felt I was riding at the limit of my package a little bit. I had better front end stability for sure today after we changed the geometry to give me more confidence in hard braking and trail braking. This is one of the hardest stop-and-go circuits on the calendar. We struggled last year and it was a relatively difficult race again today. But to only lose five points to Chaz, and increase my championship lead - it was a good day. I am sure the new grid procedure will throw a different kind of race tomorrow, as I will be starting from eighth place.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “I thought I had decent speed but there was just a couple of areas where I felt a little bit stronger than Marco. For th e last six laps we could have closed the gap to be with him but to beat him is another thing. I cannot say I would beat him because it would be unfair on Marco as he was riding well. I am just a little bit disappointed to miss some traction in that race. That is strange because the bike has been working very well on used tyres all weekend. But from the start of the race the lap time was not there and I dropped really fast. So I am disappointed in some ways but it means tomorrow I will have to make up for it from pole position.”
Superbike World Championship Round 5 - Race 2:
After a red flag halted the second WorldSBK race at Imola the 18-lap restart saw KRT riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes finish second and third respectively. In the championship standings Jonathan increased his championship advantage to 74 points, with Tom now in third place and 75 points from the lead.
On a day laden with delays and false starts in the two main championship classes at the 4.936km Imola circuit the second WorldSBK race of the weekend got underway with Sykes on pole position and Rea in eighth place – due to the rules that govern the second race grid places in 2017.
Despite the disadvantage of starting from the third row today, after finishing race one in second place on Saturday, Rea was again second, ending up 3.739 seconds from double race winner Chaz Davies.
Sykes made the absolute best of his front row position, running clear for the first six laps until Davies passed him after Tom was forced to work hard at reducing the effects of less than optimal set-up in some corners.
As the race wore on Jonathan also passed Tom, on lap 12, and the two KRT riders remained relatively close together until the chequered flag. Sykes was 4.342 seconds behind the win on race two, taking his first podium of the weekend.
In the overall standings, after five rounds and ten races, Rea has 235 points, Davies 161 and Sykes 160.
Home ground for both Tom and Jonathan beckons next for the KRT team, in the shape of Donington Park. Races will be featured on both Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th May.
Tom Sykes (left) JR (right) - World Superbike Championship Round 5 - Imola
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “It was difficult at times today especially because I made a mistake going into the Variante Bassa chicane at one point. I lost all the track positions that I gained in the first few corners and that changed my race completely. I feel that if I did not lose those I would have had something extra to - maybe not win the race - but for sure to go with Chaz. I got stuck behind some traffic after that but when I went through I was able to keep a consistent rhythm. I was too far back from Chaz but today we halved the winning margin compared to yesterday. I raced with the new soft prototype front tyre and in these temperatures I think it was maybe too soft an option for our bike. But I am generally content to have increased our championship lead, take 40 points and get on the podium twice at what is probably not our strongest track right now. It has been a really positive weekend.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing te am Rider): “We had a good start to the race and I knew this was one of the opportunities I would have. I had to make a good start and push hard early on. I knew the speed of Chaz was incredible and I knew Jonathan would have good speed as well. Finally, Jonathan and I were quite evenly matched on lap times. There were two areas of the track where I was not able to do my usual riding style and over a lap I was suffering with turning the bike. The lap times were not too bad. Chaz had another step again today but we were a big step in front of the other riders. We improved the bike set-up from yesterday a little bit, but third was probably our realistic maximum today. I am relatively happy with the Sunday race but it was just the first race this weekend that let us down a bit.”
2017 Superbike World Championship Points after Round 5:
- JONATHAN REA 235 KAWASAKI
- CHAZ DAVIES 161 DUCATI
- TOM SYKES 160 KAWASAKI
- MARCO MELANDRI 124 DUCATI
- ALEX LOWES 94 YAMAHA
- XAVI FORÉS 84 DUCATI
- MICHAEL VAN DER MARK 78 YAMAHA
- JORDI TORRES 65 BMW
- LEON CAMIER 64 MV AGUSTA
- EUGENE LAVERTY 55 APRILIA
- ROMÁN RAMOS 44 KAWASAKI
- STEFAN BRADL 43 HONDA
- NICKY HAYDEN 40 HONDA
- LEANDRO MERCADO 34 APRILIA
- LORENZO SAVADORI 28 APRILIA
- RANDY KRUMMENACHER 25 KAWASAKI
- ALEX DE ANGELIS 23 KAWASAKI
- MARKUS REITERBERGER 19 BMW
- RAFFAELE DE ROSA 5 BMW
- RICCARDO RUSSO 4 YAMAHA
- JOSHUA BROOKES 4 YAMAHA
- JULIAN SIMON 4 APRILIA
- AYRTON BADOVINI 4 KAWASAKI
- ONDREJ JEZEK 3