Round 5 - Race 1 (Saturday 30th April 2016)

After a shortened 18-lap WorldSBK race one at Imola Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes placed second and third respectively, only separated by a few tenths of a second as they chased the podium places. Rea took a 40-point championship lead into the second race, after a tough but rewarding battle around the undulating circuit in Italy. Sykes became a clear third overall approaching the second 19-lap race.

The Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari dished up two podium places for the all-new Ninja ZX-10R in the opening lunchtime WorldSBK race, despite the start being delayed after a collision between two riders on the warm-up lap.

At the start Rea and Sykes formed an early top three with eventual race winner Chaz Davies, with Rea continuing to keep pace just behind Davies as he pushed hard while the race developed.

‘JR’ was forced to drop back after experiencing an electronics issue under braking at times, running wide and off track at turn 7 at one point, but coming back onto the track surface just in front of his chasing team-mate Sykes.

With the two Kawasaki riders in close company for the final few laps, gaining something on each other in some sections and losing in some others, Sykes was just too far back on the final lap to attempt a decisive and safe pass.

Tom ended up just 0.323 seconds behind Jonathan after 18 laps at the intense and demanding 4.936km Imola parkland circuit.

JONATHAN REA (Rider Kawasaki Racing Team):“In the beginning I felt good with Chaz and I managed to close the gap down to him. We have had some issues on the engine brake side and this caused me to run on. It was happening into the fast turn five and it took my confidence a little but. When I made the mistake the gap changed. I am happy with my race because second is good asChaz was on a different planet this morning. I was just happy to be there in the race atthe beginning. I wasthe best of the rest today and now I’m happy to look forward to tomorrow, as I am sure we can improve the bike setup. I hear some mixed weather forecasts, and that we could have some rain, so I hope we can be prepared for whatever we get.”

TOM SYKES (Rider Kawasaki Racing Team):”It is difficult to pass here at Imola because it is a track that does not leave much of a margin for error. The only possibility to pass came in two areas and it would have been difficult to make a clean one. Considering the amount of practice time we lost on Friday we were probably not at a bad level. Consistency-wise the Ninja ZX-10R was good in the race but we just missed a bit of pure lap time, even in Superpole, and that will be our priority for tomorrow. We lost one maybe two seconds in the first laps and you do not close that kind of gap down very easily at this level. If I am able to ride the bike how I like I am sure we can be strong. We will keep working for this and hopefully make some improvements.”

Round 5 - Race 2 (Saturday 1st May 2016)

Rea and Sykes rode in tandem at times in the second race of the Imola weekend, which was finally held in dry conditions after heavy overnight rain. Neither Kawasaki Racing Team rider could get into contention with double race winner Chaz Davies today, despite each making changes for the second race that indicated a positive direction in overall set-up.

Like the first race of the weekend, held on Saturday 30 April, Sykes was just too far back at the end to make a challenge on Rea. Jonathan had to overcome an issue with his electronics cutting out and also almost falling as he ran wide when exiting the slow final chicane in his early pursuit of Davies.

For Rea his two runner-up places keep him in a clear championship lead, 35 points ahead of Davies. Jonathan also maintained his 100% podium record, having scored ten from ten (including five wins) as he defends his reigning champion status. Rea has now scored 75 podiums in his WorldSBK career.

With two third place finishes at Imola Sykes has now scored seven podiums from ten starts in 2016 and 71 podiums over his career, which includes a world championship win with Kawasaki in 2013. Sykes extended his lead over fourth place in the championship to 48 points today – equivalent to almost two full race wins.

JONATHAN REA (Rider Kawasaki Racing Team):“Jonathan Rea stated: “Chaz made a very good first lap and broke me a little bit but then I felt like I was managing the same pace and maybe even faster. Then I had a huge moment on the exit of the last chicane. I ran onto the Astroturf, which had held moisture from last night’s rain. A few laps later, when I was in fifth gear and on full gas, my bike just cut out on the straight. I lost two or three seconds in one lap. It fired into life again but it took me a few corners to relax again. It feels like when we can’t win we should finish second and we did that at Imola. It is clear now that there are three guys now at the top of the championship. Every dog has his day and today was not ours.”

TOM SYKES (Rider Kawasaki Racing Team):“Tom Sykes stated: “We made some improvements from yesterday but we suffered after losing almost one hour on Friday in practice. Considering the race yesterday I felt a little bit more comfortable with the bike today but when there was a bike in front I was not able to do a good lap time. I was dropping back into the 1’48s and on a clear track I could bring it into the 1’47s. Even on the last lap there was a 1’47.7 and that was with making a mistake out of the final double lefts. So there are positives to be taken from this weekend. You are never happy with third but you also have to be realistic and sometimes be happy with that. Even when we are struggling we are on the podium.”

The next round of the championship takes place at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, with racedays on May 14 and 15.

2016 Superbike World Championship Leaderboard after Round 5:

1.J. REA221
2.C. DAVIES186
3.T. SYKES154
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