Rea grabs WorldSBK lead with Donington win as Bautista crashes again

Jonathan Rea dominates in dreadful conditions at Donington Park and is rewarded with the WorldSBK lead for the first time in 2019 after Alvaro Bautista crashes out again
Rea grabs WorldSBK lead with Donington win as Bautista crashes again

Donington Park WorldSBK - Race Results (1)

Jonathan Rea has moved into the lead of the 2019 World Superbike Championship standings for the first time this season after dominating in tricky wet conditions at Donington Park, as title rival Alvaro Bautista struggled for pace before crashing out.

The Spaniard - who has led the standings with the opening race of the season - was running a distant fifth on the Ducati when he lost the rear rounding turn six on lap 13 and was flung into a high-side, consigning him to his third crash-related DNF in as many rounds.

By contrast, Rea enjoyed an uncontested afternoon, grabbing the lead from pole man Tom Sykes and quickly establishing a gap he'd command to the chequered flag to win by 11 seconds.

Indeed, Rea did his damage to the opposition within moments of the wet race getting underway, beating Sykes down to turn one and simply getting the hammer down immediately . By the end of lap one he was 2.8secs clear of the BMW rider, by lap two it was 4.8secs.

Though the rate of gains slowed from here, Rea remained consistently the fastest rider in the conditions to continue multiplying his margin over Sykes who, to his credit, was the only man capable of getting anywhere near the Kawasaki’s pace.

As triumphant as victory was going to be, however, it was Bautista’s exit that ultimately provided Rea’s biggest reward today.

Indeed, the Spaniard has appeared uncomfortable at Donington Park this weekend and the onset of rain today hasn’t seemingly helped him find his sweet spot. Even so, he was running a lonely fifth at the time of his bruising crash, which would have at least kept him ahead in the Rea standings had he remained there.

Instead, Bautista cedes the overall lead, slipping eight points behind Rea in the standings at this half-way point in the year, an unlikely scenario as recently as two rounds ago as the ex-MotoGP rider moved 59 points clear.

Sykes picked up another positive result for BMW in second position but will no doubt hope for dry races tomorrow to allow him to make use of the S1000RR’s apparent performance in optimum conditions.

Haslam made it two Kawasakis on the podium after resisting the early attentions of Loris Baz, the Ten Kate Racing rider flying the flag for Yamaha up at the front of the field as the factory Pata machines fought back from lowly grid positions, including Alex Lowes who recovered to fifth position.

Scoring his best finish of the season – and the strongest-ever WorldSBK result for the Orelac Kawasaki team – Leandro Mercado made impressive gains from 14th on the grid to finish sixth, while Peter Hickman rounded off a hard-earned seventh place aboard to confirm BMW’s best combined race result of the year.

Starting last after a tyre choice mistake in qualifying, Michael van der Mark recovered to eighth place, ahead of young Alessandro Delbianco, who supplied the race with much of its entertainment after firing off at Craner Curves following a wobble, forcing him to hang onto the Honda with both legs dangling over the side whilst trying not to drop the bike on the wet grass.

Remarkably, he not only succeeded but he recovered to ninth position to secure his best-ever result in WorldSBK and only the second top ten finish for a Honda in 2019.

Chaz Davies completed the top ten on a miserable day for Ducati, ahead of Ryuichi Kiyonari and Michel Ruben Rinaldi.