2018 Superbike World Championship Round 3 - Superpole and Race 1:
Despite a relative lack of top end power, because of limits on the maximum revs allowed under the new 2018 technical regulations, Rea found that constant improvements to his set-up through the practice sessions, and a wise tyre choice for the cool track conditions, allowed him to break the sometimes strong challenge of others and win by 1.450 seconds.
Jonathan Rea (KRT) demonstrated all his race craft and experience to win his second race of the season from a front row grid position in a restarted WorldSBK race, finally heading off a battling group of Ducati riders. Front row qualifier Tom Sykes (KRT) could not translate his strong pace into passing opportunities and slipped from fourth to seventh, before recovering a place on the final lap to finish sixth.
The planned 18-lap race was stopped after a few laps, after a three rider collision, making the eventual 17-lap restart a nervous time for all. Rea led for 13 of the 17 laps, but most crucially at the end. He upped his pace with a clear track ahead and takes a 14 point championship lead into race two, on Sunday 15th April.
Sykes was also well in contention in the early laps of Saturday’s race but the combination of not quite enough corner exit acceleration to overtake, and other riders holding him up in the corners, saw him drop back from the leading group. He still pushed all the way to the flag for a top six finish and ten more valuable championship points.
Sykes will now look to find a set-up and a strategy to overcome his first day issues and get into contention for a podium finish on Sunday at the 5.077km circuit in Spain, when significantly warmer weather conditions than today are expected to arrive.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “These track conditions suited us perfectly today. The tyres worked well in these weather conditions. I managed to find a good rhythm and I was confident, especially at the end of the race, when I knew we would be strong. I saw this race as our chance from the start. I thought that all the cards were on our side, so I just tried to be clean. I made a couple of little mistakes, and when Xavi Fores came past me it more about trying to understand where he was strong, and then improve. Mid corner, I feel like our bike is a little bit stronger. So all that first section of the track, where it is more flowing, I felt really strong. I am enjoying riding the bike.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “A strange race and I am obviously disappointed but I am struggling in some places. When I get in a group I have so much potential in a lot of areas of the track, but I find myself running into the back of other riders. It looks like we are taking a lot of good things from our chassis. We have worked hard and we
2018 Superbike World Championship Round 3 - Race 2:
Jonathan Rea (KRT) added to his race one WorldSBK victory at Motorland Aragon with a second place today in race two, to extend his championship lead to 12 points. Tom Sykes (KRT) had a tough afternoon and finished sixth in the second race of a busy weekend.
With three riders eventually competing for the second race victory in Spain Rea continued to pressurise eventual winner Chaz Davies on the final lap, after Marco Melandri had suddenly dropped back to a distant third.
Rea was to run wide into the entry of the chicane at turn 12 and lose his chance to attack Davies on the long final corner. Rea was just 1.184 seconds back at the flag, for his fourth podium finish of the 2018 season.
In warmer and sunnier conditions today than Saturday, the small advantages that Rea felt had helped him win race one were reduced a little. He also had to fight his way forward in the first lap from a third row starting position, under the reverse grid rules that operate for race two.
He is now 12 points clear of Davies in the championship table, with arguably Jonathan’s favourite round at Assen coming up in just a few days time.
For Tom Sykes a change in weather and a front row starting position did not help him overcome an unlucky start and he was ninth after one lap. He worked his way back to sixth at the flag, despite experiencing issues with turning in the longer corners. Tom is seventh in the championship after Aragon.
The next round of the championship will take place at Assen next weekend, with races on 21st and 22nd April.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “I threw everything into the last lap but I overcooked it into turn 12. But it was fun! The set-up was pretty good, although I was struggling to stop a little bit after the rear tyre had dropped in grip; then I had reduced corner entry traction. It seemed like Chaz had the same thing but when he was making mistakes he could keep the same lap time. It seems like right now we have to be very precise all through the race, but I enjoyed it today. I had no information on how the race would pan out with the tyre choice we made, and the rise in temperature. I did not know what to expect at the end but I was really happy. I had some good tyre left and was still able to fight. Now we move onto Assen.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “I am really suffering with turning the bike and it is a shame. We are good in some areas but overall, in the long corners, I really suffered in turning and finishing off the corner. It is disappointing but I suppose it has been one of those weekends. We never got the answer and the race set-up. I am surprised at this because on Friday we had something but obviously everybody else has improved and we didn’t. I had some limit on the front tyre but overall we just missed a little bit of turning and I was not able to utilise the full grip from the rear tyre because of this. Today I could not get much more from myself and I am disappointed for this.”
2018 Superbike World Championship Points after Round 3:
- JONATHAN REA 114 KAWASAKI
- CHAZ DAVIES 102 DUCATI
- MARCO MELANDR I96 DUCATI
- XAVI FORES 76 DUCATI
- ALEX LOWES 70 YAMAHA
- MICHAEL VAN DER MARK 67 YAMAHA
- TOM SYKES 63 KAWASAKI
- LEON CAMIER 42 HONDA
- TOPRAK RAZGATLIOGLU 32 KAWASAKI
- LORIS BAZ 27 BMW
- ROMÁN RAMOS 23 KAWASAKI
- JORDI TORRES 22 MV AGUSTA
- LORENZO SAVADORI 18 APRILIA
- MICHAEL RUBEN RINALDI 17 DUCATI
- JAKE GAGNE 17 HONDA
- EUGENE LAVERTY 16 APRILIA
- LEANDRO MERCADO 16 KAWASAKI
- PJ JACOBSEN 10 HONDA
- YONNY HERNANDEZ 7 KAWASAKI
- DAVIDE GIUGLIANO 3 APRILIA
- ONDREJ JEZEK 1 YAMAHA