Jonathan Rea secured his 17th career double in Imola this weekend, although it doesn’t come as a surprise.
In Saturday’s race one, he raced in dominant fashion, leading from start to finish. And while much can’t be said about the race itself, there were some incredible performances, most notably from Eugene Laverty upon his return from injury.
The Irishman fought within the top ten after qualifying in an impressive sixth place. Towards the end of the race he ran out into the gravel but re-joined, managing to finish in 12th overall, an incredibly impressive feat considering the injuries he sustained.
Current Honda Racing British Superbike rider Jason O’Halloran was drafted in for the weekend to replace Leon Camier. Although Camier managed the first two free practice sessions, he decided to withdraw as his injury was causing him too much pain. In came O’Halloran, who only had one session to get to grips with the World Superbike Honda. He qualified in 18th, ahead of his temporary team mate Jake Gagne, but crashed just a few laps in. Unfortunately for the Australian he became yet another victim to the Honda, and was diagnosed with a break to the inside of the ankle and a fracture to the outside.
Race one was won by Jonathan Rea, with his team mate Tom Sykes taking second and Marco Melandri rounding out the podium.
Thankfully race two provided us with a little more excitement. As he had finished race one in fourth, Chaz Davies lined up on pole position but his ‘almost’ team mate Michael Ruben Rinaldi – who is riding for the Aruba.it Junior team – took the holeshot to lead the opening two laps. But Davies was on the hunt, and took the lead on lap three to start creating a gap. Jonathan Rea isn’t one to let sleeping dogs lie though, and he carved his way through the pack from ninth to latch on to the back of Davies’ tail.
The pair fought at the front, constantly passing the lead between the pair. But the Ducati was no match for the Kawasaki, and as soon as Rea made his move stick, he ran away with the lead to cross the line four seconds ahead of Davies. Tom Sykes managed to best Xavi Fores to round out the podium.
Marco Melandri suffered his ill-fate at the hands of Michael van der Mark. As the Dutchman cut up the inside, he made contact with Melandri, sending them both into the gravel. Van der Mark seemed incredibly apologetic, but whether fiery Melandri accepted it is another question. The incident was put under investigation, but at the time of writing there has been no outcome.