Superbike World Championship Round 3 - Race 1:
After an often-tough fight for the lead in the opening 18-lap FIM Superbike World Championship race at Motorland Aragon Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) ended up out front on the final lap after his rival Chaz Davies fell on the last corner of the penultimate lap. This was Jonathan’s fifth win from five starts in 2017. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) put a second official Ninja ZX-10RR on the podium, in third place.
After qualifying second and third in Superpole 2 earlier in the day, Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes raced to a win and third place respectively in the first race of the Motorland weekend. Rea scored what was the 200th WorldSBK win for a British rider.
Rea’s perfect start to the season looked like it may be halted by Davies’ as they battled it out up front but when Rea’s race-long companion fell while leading, with just one lap to go, Jonathan was able to relax and take a four second margin of victory.
For Sykes the relatively strong wind was a factor in not being able to stay in contention to the end, despite his front row start. He was lapping as fast as any other riders at one point but he was forced to slow his pace near the end. He continued to look for strong points and eventually took 16 for his third place.
Rea has scored a maximum 125 points and leads the championship - now from his Sykes - by 47 points.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “I made the strongest race I could do. Chaz was strong in areas where I was not, and I was strong in areas where he was not, so it was a case of me learning a lot in the race. The stopping performance, direction change and grip conservation of the bike was really good today and I felt I still had a tyre to fight with at the end, but in the middle section of the track, where Chaz was just in the front, I could not maximise any time to try to go away out front. The only thing I could do in that race was ride shotgun and put as much pressure on as I could and wait for a mistake. The door opened up a few times because Chaz missed a few apexes but finally he went down in the penultimate lap. First of all I hope Chaz is OK but for me it was a perfect opportunity to win another race. It was going to be very difficult to win a last lap battle with him in that last sector wher e he was so strong. It is a crash-gifted win but I will take it because I felt I rode well.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “Sometimes you get gifted things in racing but we were working hard. The start of my day was very bad because I woke up about 04.00 this morning with some kind of sickness and suffered in the race. I could not fuel the body for today, I could not eat and was almost not be able to drink anything. But in the race you always find a way around these physical things. In the wind I just suffered a little bit with the turning of the bike, so the rear traction was critical. Because the bike would not turn I was overstressing the rear tyre. From that point of view, tomorrow we will have another go. Hopefully my physical condition will be much stronger and the plan right now is to improve the set-up of the bike some more.”
Superbike World Championship Round 3 - Race 2:
Kawasaki Racing Team riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes finished second and fourth respectively after the second 18-lap WorldSBK race at Motorland Aragon. Rea was in the hunt for a win right until the final corners, despite suffering from the effects of a head and chest cold. Sykes, still fighting off an infection, ended up in a lonely ride to fourth after starting the race from the third row, like his team-mate Rea.
For the first time in 2017 the combination of the Ninja ZX-10RR and Jonathan Rea did not win a WorldSBK race but they came within 0.483 seconds of making it six in a row, after a thrilling fight with eventual winner Chaz Davies.
Under the new rules that govern the starting positions for race two, race one podium finishers Rea and Sykes went back to the third row today. Rea was nonetheless in the lead by lap four and held that position until Davies passed on lap 13.
From then on Rea only had to win a short-lived battle with eventual third place rider Marco Melandri before attacking Davies again on the final lap, passing but running wide as Davies held a better line heading onto the back straight.
For Sykes, a fever meant he had nothing to eat since Saturday. Even though he started well and made up places from seventh to fourth on lap one, he was unable to go with the leading group of five that developed shortly afterwards, a group whic h was whittled down to just two at the end.
In the championship Rea has 145 points, just five from a perfect score, Davies has 95 and Sykes 91 after three rounds and six races.
Now the KRT squad will go testing on Monday 3rd April at Motorland, as part of the organisers’ official test programme. The next round will take place at Assen in the Netherlands, with racedays on Saturday April 29th and Sunday April 30th.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team): “I got to the front quite early but I could not make a break because it was so windy on the straight that the group stayed together. When Chaz came past he had a little bit more pace and I upped my own pace to try and go with him. He made a few mistakes but none that meant I could really go through clean on him and make it stick. On the last lap I just fought - fought for a win. I tried in a few places but it did not work out in the end. We can’t complain too much because on one side of the circuit we were really strong. Congratulations to Chaz because to come back from a big crash yesterday and win today was really impressive. I am really happy with the way I rode today and I got 45 points this weekend, even though I was not feeling my best. But the bike was working really well so I am looking forward to rolling to Assen now.”
Tom Sykes (Kawas aki Racing Team): “I thought I would feel better today but I am worse in my physical condition than yesterday because I have not eaten anything. We got close to the front but I am just not comfortable on the bike in windy conditions. It looks like we are sensitive on the front set-up anyway, but the wind was terrible today! And for whatever reason I am not able to keep a nice constant load on the front, which is something to consider for testing tomorrow. I just wasn’t able to keep the pace of the leaders here. We finished third and fourth on a tough weekend, and this has been the first time in a long time I have been sick on a race weekend. I have not been working at full capacity and, on the bike, you can feel how your mind does not even run at the same speed as normal. It has been a very surreal and strange feeling this weekend. I gave everything I had but I am obviously not running at full capacity.”
2017 Superbike World Championship Points after Round 3:
JONATHAN REA 145 KAWASAKI
CHAZ DAVIES 95
TOM SYKES 91 KAWASAKI
MARCO MELANDR I81
ALEX LOWES 65
MICHAEL VAN DER MARK 49
JORDI TORRES 48
XAVI FORÉS 44
LEON CAMIER 38
EUGENE LAVERTY 30
NICKY HAYDEN 27
STEFAN BRADL 19
MARKUS REITERBERGER 19
ROMÁN RAMOS 18 KAWASAKI
LEANDRO MERCADO 17
RANDY KRUMMENACHER 14 KAWASAKI
ALEX DE ANGELIS 13 KAWASAKI
LORENZO SAVADORI 10
RICCARDO RUSSO 4
JOSHUA BROOKES 4
JULIAN SIMON 4
ONDREJ JEZEK 3 KAWASAKI
AYRTON BADOVINI 2