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.
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 said: “It was a very difficult decision to cancel the race; I am sure there are many fans here, but race direction made the decision and we all support that.”
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.”
Rea reduces the gap to championship leader Alvaro Bautista to 43 points now, with the momentum firmly in the green corner.
WorldSBK Race One: Rea returns to the head of the WorldSBK field at Imola, taking an emphatic first win of the season
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. The Ulsterman rocketed off the line from second on the grid and was leading the field as they approached the Villeneuve Chicane for the first time.
From this point onwards, Rea was not shown a wheel by anyone, as even the WorldSBK championship leader, Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) couldn’t deal with Rea’s onslaught of low 1’46 lap times.
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.
With weather looking ominously bad ahead of Sunday, Rea stated:
“The forecast looks horrible for tomorrow, I hope it isn’t. For many reasons but also for safety. I haven’t ridden at Imola in the wet so let’s see. We got the job done today and that is what is important.”
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 Results: 1. Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK 2. Alvaro Bautista – ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati 3. Toprak Razgatlioglu – Turkish Puccetti Racing
WorldSBK Tissot Superpole Race: Ducati pair duel in the wake of Jonathan Rea, who took his 73rd career win
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.
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.
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.
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 11thplace from his row six starting place.
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.
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.
WorldSBK Tissot Superpole Race Results: 1. Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK 2. Chaz Davies – ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati 3. Alvaro Bautista – ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati
WorldSBK Race Two: Cancelled due to weather conditions
Following severe rain on Sunday in Imola, and after lengthy delays, the decision was finally made to cancel WorldSBK Race 2 and WorldSSP 300 races.
WorldSBK Championship Standings
1. Alvaro Bautista – 263 points (Ducati) 2. Jonathan Rea – 220 points (Kawasaki) 3. Alex Lowes – 140 points (Yamaha) 4. Michael van der Mark – 134 points (Yamaha) 5. Leon Haslam – 108 points (Kawasaki)
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.
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.
An ecstatic Krummenacher stated:
“It was a tough race, Federico was really fast today. I changed my strategy a bit compared to Assen and all went really well. I took that moment to pass him in the last lap and break really late and tight at the last chicane and that all went well too! It was a great race, so thanks to the team, but we need to continue to work, we can do better, and we have to do better. We are in a great way and the season so far has gone fantastic! I always want to win when it’s possible!”
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 Race Results: 1. Randy Krummenacher – BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team 2. Federico Caricasulo – BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team 3. Raffaele De Rosa – MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse
WorldSSP Championship Standings
1. Randy Krummenacher – 115 points 2. Federico Caricasulo – 93 points (Yamaha) 3. Jules Cluzel – 78 points (Yamaha)