WorldSBK: Jonathan Rea Secures Sixth World Superbike Title!
Northern Irish rider Jonny Rea has achieved his sixth consecutive World Championship in the premier class, an unprecedented achievement in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship in the last round of the season after a spectacular performance at Estoril.
13 years after he arrived in World Superbike, having won more titles and races than anyone in the history of the Championship, the rider from Ballymena (Northern Ireland) has continued to increase the era of his dominance in the premier class with a new crown in the 2020 campaign. At 33, Rea has once again demonstrated that his ambition, talent and resources have no borders or limits in sight.
And this, despite the fact that the 2020 season started as one of the most contested in recent years, both due to the number of rivals capable of winning races – something that has been confirmed throughout the season – and due to the vigorous competitiveness of all manufacturers. Also, even though the competition was dramatically interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic and condensed by the same circumstance to eight rounds of maximum intensity.
The start at Phillip Island already set the trend for the season by offering three different winners and two Championship leaders, Toprak Razgatlioglu (PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team) and Rea’s teammate Alex Lowes. The Northern Irishman, for his part, started the campaign by winning the Tissot Superpole Race of the Australian Round held at Phillip Island.
Then the global epidemic of COVID-19 would fall like a blow, which put all competitive activity on standby for almost five months and completely upset the originally planned calendar. The uncertainty and the long wait finally ended with the resumption of the Championship at the Jerez circuit, where Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) shone with special intensity. The English rookie presented his challenge with two victories and a second place that placed him as the new Championship leader, with a 24-point advantage. Rea limited damage at the Andalusian track with a new victory in the Tissot Superpole Race.
The Northern Irishman’s reaction came in a thunderous way at the next round, at the Portimao circuit, another recurring talismanic scenario for the Kawasaki rider. The five-time champion’s coup of authority came with three dominating victories between Saturday and Sunday, an astonishing hat-trick that gave him the Championship lead for the first time in 2020 and a slim 4-point lead over Redding.
The MotorLand Aragon layout was later the scene of an unprecedented double call-up on consecutive weekends. The fight for the title between the two most prominent contenders intensified over six races, although other protagonists were interspersed among them, such as Michael Rubén Rinaldi, who debuted as a WorldSBK winner in the Teruel Round, or Chaz Davies, who fought for victories and exhibited a return to his best form. Redding won the Aragon Race 1 and the Teruel Superpole race, but he was more inconsistent and dropped more points. The Northern Irishman at Kawasaki had three victories but also achieved consistent results when he failed to win. At the end of those two weeks, Rea had extended his lead to 36 points.
At the Catalunya Round, Rea had to share the victories with two other winners, Chaz Davies and Michael van der Mark, but his victory in Race 1 and again his consistency over the weekend allowed him to extend his lead over Redding to 51 points and reaching Magny-Cours with a chance to win the title at Round 7. However, although he won the first two races in France, the reaction of the Ducati duo in Race 2, with the triumph of Scott Redding and the third place of Chaz Davies, meant the title would be decided at the season finale in Estoril.
With a 59-point lead, Rea had everything going for him to complete his mission in Estoril, and on Saturday he brilliantly conquered his new world title in a setting unheard of for the current generation of WorldSBK.
Despite the arrival of new rivals and the emergence of a new generation of pilots, despite the change in calendar format that the health crisis forced; despite everything, the era of Rea continues to expand. In 2020 he has achieved a previously unthinkable milestone, the sixth consecutive world title, and is already close to 100 career victories, achievements never before achieved in this Championship. A success without borders or limits, only within the reach of the one who is already the best WorldSBK rider in history.
WorldSBK Pirelli Estoril Round, Race One
Toprak Razgatlioglu (PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team) took a stunning victory for the Pirelli Estoril Round at the Circuito Estoril, while challenge Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) retired from the race with a technical issue. Saturday report…
Razgatlioglu made a good start from pole position and held first place as he converted his first career pole into his second win of the year; following on from his victory at the season-opening Australian Round. He was joined on the podium with Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) and American Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) as they fought off Rea to secure a podium place.
Rea started from the middle of the grid following a crash in the Tissot Superpole session but soon found himself inside the top ten as he gained an impressive eight laps on the opening lap, and quickly improved his position on the follow lap as he passed teammate Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark (PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team) at Turn 1 to move into the podium places.
He moved into second place as he made a move on Gerloff into Turn 1 but the American rookie was able to respond a few laps later, after Davies was able to make a move on Rea to move into second place. Rea and Gerloff engaged in a sensational battle for third during the remainder of the 21-lap race; allowing Razgatlioglu and Davies to pull away at the front as they finished first and second. Gerloff moved ahead at Turn 1 on Lap 14 and started pulling away as he secured his second career podium.
Rea finished the race in fourth place as he lost ground to the riders in front of him but had a large margin over fifth-placed Leon Haslam (Team HRC), who battled hard with Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC); the Spanish rider had been fifth until Lap 20 before he crashed out of the race. Lowes finished in sixth place after being unable to catch Haslam on the last lap.
2021 Ducati rider Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team GOELEVEN) finished in seventh place, just behind the Lowes-Haslam-Bautista battle but unable to take advantage of the trio battling each other, finishing ahead of Xavi Fores (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in eighth and Frenchman Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) in ninth.
Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) completed the top ten with the British rider finishing just behind Baz, but 2.5 seconds clear of Jonas Folger (Bonovo Action by MGM Racing) in 11th as the wildcard secured points in his second race of the season, finishing 10 seconds clear of Eugene Laverty (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team).
Argentinean rider Leandro Mercado (Motocorsa Racing) finished in the points as he secured a 13th place finish ahead of Takumi Takahashi (MIE Racing HONDA Team) and teammate Eric Granado; the Brazilian finishing in the points in his first WorldSBK appearance of the season. Sheridan Morais (ORELAC Racing VerdNatura) finished just outside the points with 16th, with Bautista being classified in 17th place ahead of Loris Cresson (OUTDO Kawasaki TPR).
Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) did not finish the race after he crashed out in the second half of the race, with van der Mark not finishing the race after he came off his bike while battling for the podium. Redding retired from the race with a technical issue on Lap 6, effectively confirming Rea as a six-time World Champion as Redding had to win the race, while Matteo Ferrari (Barni Racing Team) did not finish the race.
WorldSBK Race 1 (full results here)
- Toprak Razgatlioglu (PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team)
- Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) +3.039s
- Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) +4.220s