WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea took his Ninja ZX-10RR to the top step of the podium twice today, winning both the ten-lap Superpole Race and Race Two. Leon Haslam (KRT) battled hard today and finished eighth and tenth. Two third places for Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) ended his weekend on a high.
The penultimate round of the 2019 season ended up providing two fast and competitive races on Sunday, each won by Rea to extend his all time record score of race victories to 85.
In the cooler conditions of Sunday at Circuito San Juan Villicum the pace improved greatly and Rea set a new lap record - and track best - of 1’37.462, on lap three of the ‘sprint’ race. His opening Sunday race win also earned him the top grid spot for the final race of the weekend, and thus Jonathan also became the 2019 Tissot-Superpole Award winner, for the best overall qualifying performance.
In the ten-lap Tissot-Superpole fight Rea was in command from the start, easing away to win by over two seconds from Alvaro Bautista. Haslam was eighth, having started from 14th on the grid.
In Race Two Rea got involved in a tense early fight with Bautista, before his pace told and he eased away to score his second race win of 2019 and his 14th of the season.
Now starting from eighth place on the grid for the final race at the 4.276km long circuit Haslam was finally tenth in Race Two, after losing early ground in a collision with another rider. Three points scoring races all together in Argentina keep Leon sixth overall in the championship standings, with one more round to go.
Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK won the Teams’ Award today, with one round to go. Kawasaki leads the Manufacturers’ standings by 37 points with just the final three individual races to be run.
The season finale, to be held under floodlights as is now traditional, will take place at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, with WorldSBK racedays on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th October.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “That was really positive, especially the Superpole race where I felt really strong in the cooler conditions. The grip level was really high so I was able to push the bike and manage it. The sensations felt quite normal. We made a change overnight, on the front of the bike, just to give me a bit more front confidence in trail braking to stabilise the bike. That enabled me to carry that much more entry speed. We knew Alvaro was one of the strongest guys and to race with him I was going to have to be really strong on the brakes and corner entry. Kudos to the guys because we came up with a really good set-up. Yesterday I made too many mistakes in the race and that gave Alvaro too much breathing room, so now I am really happy to win both races today.”
Leon Haslam, stated: “Starting from 14th on the grid was hard work. We made it to sixth in the long race yesterday and eighth in the first race today, and I do not think we could have done much more because the passing around this circuit has been hard. I was really looking forward to that last race. I got a good start and then got tangled with Tom Sykes. As I went up the inside of him he came into me and I think it was my handlebar that got caught in his fairing. That dropped us back to pretty much last. We came through to battling for eighth position, I think, at one point but we had destroyed the rear tyre and ended up going backwards for the last five, six or seven laps.”
Already crowned top Independent Rider, Toprak Razgatlioglu put in another strong weekend performance with two third places today. In doing so he drew himself to within six points of the third placed rider, ensuring an exciting season finale in Qatar next time out. Toprak is currently fifth, but with a clear aim to finish third by season’s end.
Toprak Razgatlioglu, stated: “More podiums, but in the sprint race the bike felt like it was not turning. After we changed the set-up the bike gave me an incredible feeling. But my tyre was finished. This was a problem for all riders but I tried for second place, but it was not possible. I am happy to take another podium. We will see how things are in Qatar because I am very close to the top three in the championship.”
Home rider Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) was tenth in the sprint and a truly combative eighth in front of his enthusiastic Argentinean countrymen in Race Two. Leandro is now 14th overall.
Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) was 11th and then 9th today and enters the final round in 10th place overall, six points up on the next nearest rider. All five Kawasaki riders in Race Two finished inside the top ten positions.