REA SECOND AFTER SHORT IMOLA OPENING RACE
Imola SBK Race 1
The planned 19-lap WorldSBK race at Imola was counted back to lap 12 for its final result after a red flag incident halted the contest, with Jonathan Rea (KRT) ending up second and his team-mate Tom Sykes fourth. With one more Imola race to run on Sunday Rea leads the championship with a new total of 215 points and Sykes is still second overall with 144.
After Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea had finished Superpole qualifying in second and third place respectively they each had designs on a podium finish in the first race, but neither was quite able to match the pace of Superpole and eventual race one winner Chaz Davies.
Rea, who first had to pass the fast starting Marco Melandri on lap five, was then in a position to keep up a high pace, but he could not draw closer to Davies. Looking to consolidate his championship lead and get the best result possible Rea scored 20 points for second place, a reward he was presented with earlier than expected after a crash for another competitor brought out the red flags.
For Sykes a loss of traction compared to his previous sessions on track at Imola was an unexpected blow to his chances of shooting for full points. He was in a close fourth place when the red flags came out, ready to make a move on Melandri in the final stages. After the red flags he was classified fourth and is still second in the championship overall.
With another race to take place on Sunday 14th, and again starting at 1pm, Rea and Sykes will have a second chance to score heavily at Imola. Under the new grid rules for 2017, Sykes’ fourth place means he will start from pole on Sunday while Rea has to go back to the third row, in eighth place, after finishing second in race one.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “In previous races I felt that if they could go faster I could go faster, that there was a little bit left in my pocket. This race I felt I was riding at the limit of my package a little bit. I had better front end stability for sure today after we changed the geometry to give me more confidence in hard braking and trail braking. This is one of the hardest stop-and-go circuits on the calendar. We struggled last year and it was a relatively difficult race again today. But to only lose five points to Chaz, and increase my championship lead - it was a good day. I am sure the new grid procedure will throw a different kind of race tomorrow, as I will be starting from eighth place.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “I thought I had decent speed but there was just a couple of areas where I felt a little bit stronger than Marco. For the last six laps we could have closed the gap to be with him but to beat him is another thing. I cannot say I would beat him because it would be unfair on Marco as he was riding well. I am just a little bit disappointed to miss some traction in that race. That is strange because the bike has been working very well on used tyres all weekend. But from the start of the race the lap time was not there and I dropped really fast. So I am disappointed in some ways but it means tomorrow I will have to make up for it from pole position.”