PODIUM PLACES FOR KRT DUO AT LAGUNA
Laguna Seca SBK race 1
Jonathan Rea (KRT) and his team-mate Tom Sykes battled inside the podium places for the entire 25-laps of the first WorldSBK Laguna Seca race of the weekend, with Rea finishing second and Sykes third.
From pole position Sykes led for the first 11 laps of the race, with eventual race winner Chaz Davies and front row qualifier Rea just behind. A double pass, from Davies into the Corkscrew chicane and Rea on the exit, saw Sykes suddenly third. He was to hold onto that position until the end of the race, for his 12th podium of the year.
With seven laps remaining Rea was confident he would be able to challenge for the win but he found he was not able to make up ground to Davies in one key area, and he finished a narrow 1.202 seconds from victory.
This was Jonathan’s 14th podium finish of the year and it gave him 20 points, which extended his championship advantage over his KRT team-mate Sykes to 54.
The race was held in hot and sunny conditions, which took the track temperature to 58°C at the start of the race and ensured it was a particularly intense day of work for all the riders.
Earlier on Saturday morning Sykes had topped the times in Superpole qualifying, giving him to a total of three poles wins this season and 41 pole wins over his entire career in WorldSBK. Tom is now only two Superpoles away from matching the outright record of 43, held by Troy Corser.
With another Laguna Seca WorldSBK race to come on Sunday 9th July, Rea has 316 points and Sykes 262.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “I thought that was going to be my race but there was no substitute for Chaz here today. In the mid-part of the race I felt really good. Chaz would make a few tenths on one lap and then I could get right back on him, and I thought that this would be my race. But in the last seven laps I really struggled with corner entry and the only place I lost out was from the last corner to T1. Chaz was taking two to three tenths out of me in the last seven laps in that area and that was too much to make up again. I felt I was holding my own everywhere except that last section. We increased the championship lead again but I always vow that I never start to think about the championship situation until the summer break.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “I felt my pace drop towards the end but it was just rear tyre grip reducing on corner entry. I am disappointed about that but there was nothing more I could do. I did my best during the race to adjust the way I entered the corner and the engine brake strategy but there is no real substitute for grip. You hear a lot of people talk about electronics but when there is no grip left there is no grip left. We made a good step compared to yesterday and again tomorrow we will try to be strong. Another Superpole win today, and that just comes when it comes, but for me what was nice was that we improved our race set-up so much today, and we need to do the same again for Sunday.”