What do you fight for when there’s two rounds to go and you’ve already won the championship?
Jonathan Rea wrapped up his record breaking third consecutive title in Magny-Cours, and has set now his sights on the all time points record. The benchmark is 552 points, which has stood strong since 2002 when it was set by Colin Edwards. After today’s race, Rea sits pretty at the top with 481 points and will need a further 71 points where only 75 are available.
In Jerez today he took one step closer to securing that record with an effortless win. Rea has surprisingly never won at the Spanish track before, and has never won at Losail either, where the championship reaches its climax in two weeks time.
Rea took the holeshot into the first corner, but the race was subsequently red flagged due to a crash further back in the field. Raffaele De Rosa was the first to lose it, with Ayrton Badovini almost crashing in sympathy. De Rosa walked away unhurt, but Badovini was transferred to the nearest hospital for deeper medical checks.
The race restarted some twenty minutes later, and once again Rea got the holeshot from pole man Marco Melandri. Chaz Davies had a much better start the second time around, working his way up to fourth from his original starting position of eighth.
Six laps later, and something actually happened. It had felt like a parade for the most part, with the top four riders following each other round which was surprising considering Davies and Tom Sykes are still fighting for second in the championship. But with thirteen laps to go, a feisty Melandri muscled his way through to the lead, dragging Davies with him into second and leaving the newly crowned triple champion in third. It didn’t stay that way for long though, as Rea pulled himself back through to second and set his sights on the leading Italian.
As soon as Melandri made it to the front he was off, creating a gap of almost a second until, with four laps to go, he was forced to retire. By then it was all over for the rest of the field as Rea crossed the line first ahead of Davies and Sykes. Surprised? Me neither.
Sylvain Guintoli made his return to the World Superbike paddock after departing the Pata Yamaha team for the Bennetts Suzuki British Superbike team. He returned in place of injured Randy Krummenacher on the Puccetti Racing Kawasaki, starting from eleventh on the grid to finish sixth. Guintoli’s performance has surely helped his career prospects for next year, as there is talk of him returning to the World stage in 2018.
World Superbike Race One:
- Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team – 32:15.347
- Chaz Davies, Aruba.it Racing Ducati +1.137
- Tom Sykes, Kawasaki Racing Team +1.599
- Alex Lowes, Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team +3.652
- Michael van der Mark, Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team +7.329
- Sylvain Guintoli, Kawasaki Puccetti Racing +11.066
- Lorenzo Savadori, Milwaukee Aprilia +15.235
- Eugene Laverty, Milwaukee Aprilia +16.241
- Xavi Fores, BARNI Racing Team Ducati +16.273
- Roman Ramos, Team Kawasaki Go Eleven +18.463