Superb Rea breaks Bautista WorldSBK streak

Jonathan Rea is the first rider other than Alvaro Bautista to win a World Superbike Championship race this season at Imola.
Superb Rea breaks Bautista WorldSBK streak

Full WorldSBK Race Results (1) at Imola

Jonathan Rea has become the first rider other than Alvaro Bautista to win a World Superbike Championship encounter this season following a commanding performance in race one at Imola.

The four-time WorldSBK champion grabbed the lead from pole sitter Chaz Davies on lap one and wasn’t challenged thereafter, running out a dominant winner by almost eight seconds.

Indeed, having signalled his intentions with a rapid turn in free practice on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR, Rea wasted no time in stamping his authority on the race, following Davies through the opening turns before moving straight past into the lead at Villeneuve.

Davies’ race, meanwhile, lasted only a few corners further as technical gremlins struck the hapless Welshman and forced him out, his frustration on clear display as he threw his gloves across the garage on his return to the pit lane.

Leaving Rea ahead of Bautista, though the Spaniard attempted to rally against his closest title rival, the Kawasaki rider steadily built momentum to extend his lead out as far as nine seconds. Eventually crossing the line just under eight seconds clear, Rea’s win - which marks his 72ndWorldSBK victory – breaks Bautista’s record-breaking 11 race victory streak.

Second place for Bautista on his Imola race debut nonetheless marks a positive result for his burgeoning championship bid, though Rea’s win and Davies’ DNF will otherwise be viewed with disappointment by Ducati on their home soil.

Almost 20secs back, an intense fight for third went the surprise way of Toprak Razgatlioglu, the Turk notching up a third career WorldSBK podium after a superb ride from 11thon the grid.

Resplendent in its special ELF-livery, the Puccetti Kawasaki pinned onto an early battle for fourth involving the two Pata Yamahas of Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark, plus the slow-starting factory Kawasaki of Leon Haslam, a fight that was promoted to third when Tom Sykes – en route for BMW’s first podium since 2013 – was forced to retire with technical issues.

Picking off his rivals one-by-one during a mid-race rout, Razgatlioglu staunchly defended from van der Mark into the closing laps, the pair making brief contact at Tosa as the privateer rider responded to a lunge from the factory-backed Yamaha man. In the end, the less experienced rider won out for a famous home soil result for Puccetti and his first podium of the season.

van der Mark retained fourth, ahead of a disappointing Haslam, who compounded his poor start with two offs at Variante Alta that twice forced him to make up ground again on the pack ahead.

Marco Melandri endured a lonely race to sixth, the Italian benefiting from a fading Lowes ahead, the Pata Crescent rider suffering with illness this weekend having run as high as fourth early on.

Starting at the back of the grid after a crash in Superpole, Michael Ruben Rinaldi showed fine pace to claw his way to eighth at the chequered flag, ahead of wild-card Lorenzo Zanetti, who secured a top ten finish in his first WorldSBK race since 2012.

A poor-starting Markus Reiterberger flew the sole flag for BMW in tenth, from Jordi Torres and the impressive Tommy Bridewell, who notched up points in 12thplace just hours after throwing his leg over the Go Eleven Ducati for the first time.

He finished ahead of Hector Barbera, Ryuichi Kiyonari and Alessandro Delbianco, who nonetheless all scored points as the 15 finishers.

Beyond Davies and Sykes, Sandro Cortese suffered his third crash of the weekend to retire, while Leon Camier didn’t start after an accident in Superpole left him hospitalised.