Having been defeated for eleven consecutive races, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was back to his formidable best in 2019 as he took his first win of the season in Race 1 at Imola.

Off the line, it was a bright start for Rea, but he couldn’t get the better of Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) down into Tamburello. However, on the run to Acque Minerale, Davies suffered a problem and was forced to retire, handing Rea the lead whilst Davies’ teammate Bautista had second.

World Superbikes at Imola 2019

World Superbikes at Imola 2019

At the end of the opening lap, Rea and Bautista had the leading positions, whilst Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) occupied third and Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was riding well from eighth on the grid to be in fourth. Completing the top five, Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) whilst Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK Team) slipped to sixth. One of the biggest movers and shakers on the opening lap was Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing), who was up four positions into seventh!

As the race settled down, Rea built a comfortable lead and was extending his advantage over Bautista by around 0.7s per lap. Bautista in turn was escaping the attention of Sykes but the main battle through the race was for fourth, with van der Mark leading Lowes, whilst Razgatlioglu was now in sixth, ahead of Haslam.

Jonathan Rea

Jonathan Rea

Speaking about his first win of the 2019 season, Rea said, “It is incredible, I really needed that! I talked myself into it pretty much since Assen. The track really suits our bike, we came here last year with a new base setting after the Brno test and I carried good speed all weekend. This year, we came here without panicking and wanted a ‘last year’s base’, albeit this year we have the bigger profile Pirelli tyres. It is clear we have made a step with the bike and of course at this track, I know many little techniques to put into practice.”

Rea has ended the streak of Alvaro Bautista, who was aiming for his twelfth straight win, to go in the record books as the only rider to achieve such a feat. However, Rea’s consistency and determination mean that he now has the upper hand going into Sunday.

Alvaro Bautista

Alvaro Bautista

Taking his 72nd career victory, Jonathan Rea increases his win tally at the very top of the all-time race wins standings. It is his eighth at the Imola circuit, making him the most successful rider to grace this famed layout in WorldSBK.

WorldSBK Race 1 – Imola

  1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
  2. Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati)
  3. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing)
  4. Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team)
  5. Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
  6. Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK)

WorldSBK Sprint: Rea takes Tissot Superpole Race as Davies beats Bautista

The first race of the third day of action at Imola was the Tissot Superpole Race, which provided fireworks once more. On a damp but drying circuit, there was drama before the race even started, as Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) missed the warm up lap and was forced to start from pit lane. The 2013 WorldSBK champion had work to do in the early stages.

Saturday saw conditions deteriorate - Jonathan Rea

Saturday saw conditions deteriorate – Jonathan Rea

With the race underway, Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) got the jump from pole position, whilst race one winner Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) went side-by-side with the Welshman, having to wait his chance at turn two. Championship leader Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) was third whilst Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) held fourth.

With the race settling down, a mistake from Chaz Davies at the final chicane allowed Rea and Bautista to get ahead of him. Davies now had to put in the hard work all over again, as the reigning champion began to pull out an advantage.

Chaz Davies

Chaz Davies

As in race one, a battle unfolded for fourth place, this time with Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) leading the battle from Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing), Alex Lowes and Haslam, who had once again dropped down the order after a combative couple of laps from the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team riders.

Toprak Razgatlioglu however wouldn’t stay in the fight long, as he began to drop back through the field, with his Superpole Race tyre not able to go the distance. Similarly, Alvaro Bautista, who had also opted for the same compound, began to drop back towards his teammate and with just five laps to go at the second part of Rivazza, Davies squeezed down the inside.

Toprak Razgatlioglu

Toprak Razgatlioglu

Then, the two dominant forces of WorldSBK in the past four seasons – Rea and Davies – went head-to-head in terms of lap times, right on lap record pace and both having to keep the pace right until the end. The gap momentarily came down to below a second, but Davies was unable to usurp Jonathan Rea, whilst Bautista rode answerless in third position.

Down the field, there were some phenomenal rides, with Tom Sykes rocketing up the order and making short work of those in his sights. Soon, he was ahead of Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) with just one lap to go and his attention turned to toppling Toprak, who was now losing time, hand over fist. Another stunning ride was completed by Tommy Bridewell (Team Goeleven), who blitzed through the order on the opening lap to get to 11th place from his row six starting place.

Jordi Torres

Jordi Torres

However, at the front, Jonathan Rea took the win, his second of the season and his first in the Tissot Superpole Race. It was Rea’s 73rd victory and his ninth at Imola.

Davies and Bautista came home behind him, whilst Michael van der Mark took his best Imola result. Lowes was back inside the top five, with Leon Haslam placed in sixth. Razgatlioglu was caught but not passed by Sykes, as they finished seventh and eighth respectively, whilst Jordi Torres was ninth. Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) completed the top ten.

Alvaro Bautista

Alvaro Bautista

Less than a second back, super-substitute Tommy Bridewell was 11th, a stunning ride from the British rider. Wildcard Lorenzo Zanetti (Motocorsa Racing) was in 12th, ahead of Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) Hector Barbera (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) and Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) completing the points.

Jonathan Rea took the Superpole Race win from Davies and Bautista

Jonathan Rea took the Superpole Race win from Davies and Bautista

Tissot Superpole Race – Imola

  1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
  2. Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati)
  3. Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati)
  4. Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team)
  5. Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team)
  6. Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)

World Superbikes Race 2 Cancelled

Jonathan Rea was back on top at the Imola WorldSBK meeting, the fifth round of the 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship. The Ulsterman blitzed the opposition in race one on Saturday before taking a superb win in the Tissot Superpole Race, ahead of Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati). The traditional race two on Sunday was cancelled due to heavy rain.

Jonathan Rea

Jonathan Rea

Having taken the lead at the end of the opening lap in Sunday’s sprint, thanks to a mistake from Chaz Davies, Rea never looked back and was never challenged by anyone else at the front. Having looked dominant from the start of the weekend, the results are fruit of hard work off track for the defending four-time WorldSBK champion.

Reviewing the cancellation of Sunday’s race two, Rea saying, “It was a really positive weekend, to get my feeling with the bike here and be able to really get the maximum out of it. To pick up two race wins makes me really happy. I want to thank all the team for always believing and keeping on pushing. We never stopped believing that this weekend was a perfect opportunity for the chance to win. With our form here in the past, the way our bike works here and the way I ride – it was our chance. So we had to take it and I did, in both races. That was positive but unfortunately race three was cancelled because of the weather which came in. I completely understand and I am sure we will get our chance again.”

Jonathan Rea

Jonathan Rea

Speaking about whether he can start think about the championship again, Rea denied, saying: “To be honest, no, not really right now. We know how unique a circuit Imola is, last year I was very strong here and the situation this weekend was in our favour, we started very well in FP1 and I found a good momentum. Let’s see what Jerez brings, I am definitely optimistic because I felt a little bit more confident with the bike.”

Chaz Davies

Chaz Davies

Chaz Davies sharing, “It’s a bit of a shame we never got the chance to do race 2 here at Imola but unfortunately in the wet this track has quite a few limits. Imola is not a normal circuit, and with these ups and downs you get a lot of standing water especially in the corners and these conditions meant that they had to cancel today’s race. It was the right decision, but I’m sorry for all the fans who stayed here in the rain all afternoon just to see us race. The positive thing is that we managed to do the sprint race, and judging by the result, it was a pity not to have been able to do the full-length second race. After a tough start to the season, I’m starting to see the light and my feeling with the Panigale V4 R is improving all the time. I go home from Imola knowing that I’ve made a lot of progress in view of the next races.”

Alvaro Bautista

Alvaro Bautista

Álvaro Bautista adding, “Unfortunately the bad weather affected the second race, and it was raining really hard. The track conditions were dangerous, with a lot of water in some parts and streams crossing the track. It was too risky for the riders and it was the right decision to cancel the race. We feel really bad about that because we know that there are a lot of Superbike fans here, but rider safety is the most important aspect. Having the support of all the Ducatisti is incredible and even though I didn’t win a race, it was one of the best weekends in my entire career because I really felt their support. For this reason, I feel a bit sorry for them, but I think they will understand the situation.”

Rea reduces the gap to championship leader Alvaro Bautista to 43 points now, with the momentum firmly in the green corner.

Michael van der Mark

Michael van der Mark

Michael van der Mark sits fourth in the standings and shared, “We changed quite a lot on the bike for the Superpole Race and I immediately felt that the bike was better, especially in the areas we identified for improvement after Race 1 yesterday. This gave me a lot of confidence and my pace was a lot quicker compared to yesterday. I got a good start and had a little battle in the beginning, but that meant I just lost contact with Alvaro, who managed to pull a gap that I didn’t have time to close. But I had a good lead over the guys behind me and, while it wasn’t the most exciting race I’ve ever had, I was really happy with the feeling of the bike and my pace in the race. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to take advantage of the improvements in Race 2 this afternoon, as it was cancelled due to the weather. It’s a shame because we wanted to race and everyone who’d braved the weather to be here wanted to see us race, but with so much standing water on the track it just wasn’t safe.”

Alex Lowes

Alex Lowes

Teammate Alex Lowes adding, “The bike felt great in the Superpole race. I had a good battle with the Leon and Toprak in the early stages of the race, before pulling a bit of a gap on them. My best laps were near the end of the race and I felt that, maybe, if I’d have got clear sooner then I might have been able to have a good battle with Michael. But for us to finish fourth and fifth on what has previously been a tough track for us shows just how much we’ve improved. It gives me a lot of confidence going forward, now that we’ve been so competitive at what was probably our worst track last year. I’m really happy with the weekend; I’ve been up against it a bit with the sickness, but I’m quite proud of myself for how I’ve dealt with it and come out of it with some decent points. A big thank you to all the fans that turned out over the weekend, but especially today. Luckily, they got to see the Superpole race and then a thrilling Supersport race, but it was a shame they missed out on Race 2 because of the weather conditions. We had a lot of rain in a short space of time and there was a lot of standing water on track. This circuit has a couple of third and fourth gear kinks, which are really fast, and that’s exactly where the standing water was collecting. On a bike, surrounded by other riders at those speeds, it simply wasn’t safe enough to race this afternoon, unfortunately.”

World Superbikes at Imola

World Superbikes at Imola

Leon Haslam also sharing, “I had exactly the same problem as in race one. I could not pass, could not follow the guys. When I had a gap I could go really fast. Compared to Jonathan we are losing under braking but on a positive note, in cornering, in the exits, and how I adapted my style in other areas, we made good steps. Jonathan is very good here and I knew it was going to be a tough weekend trying to adapt my style with the things I have struggled with, but it was a lot harder than I expected. We will take a fifth and a sixth.”

WorldSBK Championship Standings following Imola

  1. Alvaro Bautista – Ducati 263 points
  2. Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki 220 points
  3. Alex Lowes – Yamaha 140 points
  4. Michael van der Mark – Yamaha 134 points
  5. Leon Haslam – Kawasaki 108 points
  6. Chaz Davies – Ducati 85 points

WorldSSP: Krummenacher takes third win of the season

In what was a thrilling encounter between teammates in WorldSSP, Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) came out on top to extend his championship lead over home-hero, Federico Caricasulo. The Swiss rider stalked his teammate in the closing laps before capitalising on an error by the Italian, to take a third victory of the season.

Randy Krummenacher

Randy Krummenacher

Going from pole position, Krummenacher didn’t reach the Tamburello chicane in the lead as Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) romped ahead from third on the grid. Soon enough, Krummenacher was leading, following a mistake by Cluzel. However, Caricasulo took the lead soon after and, until just five corners from a historic home win, had the measure of Krummenacher. The Swiss rider pounced with a daring move on the run down to Rivazza and despite a mistake in the final chicane, took the win!

Randy Krummenacher

Randy Krummenacher

An ecstatic Randy Krummenacher sharing, “I had to work hard for the win here, because Federico was really fast today. I changed a bit my approach in the race and let Federico past before then applying as much pressure as possible. A small mistake from him was all I needed to retake the lead on the last lap and from there I just pushed to my maximum and defended into the final chicane by braking really late and going in tight. I’m really happy with the win; it was a hard one so we need to continue working to improve, because we can improve, but we can also be happy with how we’ve performed this season, as three wins in five races is really nice.”

With this latest victory, Krummenacher is now 22 points clear at the head of the pack, having not dropped below second position in any of the opening five races so far in 2019. However, his teammate is also just as consistent, with five consecutive podiums in 2019.

WorldSSP Championship Standings after Imola

  1. Randy Krummenacher – 115 points
  2. Federicol Caricasulo – 93
  3. Jules Cluzel – 78

 

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