Rea Ends Bautista’s Winning Streak at Imola
Reigning four-time WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) got back on track while ending points leader Alvaro Bautista’s record-breaking streak of 11 consecutive wins. Rea put on a clinic during Race 1 of the Pirelli Italian Round for career win No. 72 and followed with his 73rd win during the 10-lap Tissot Superpole race. Race 2 was cancelled due to rain.
Off the line in Race 1, it was a bright start for Rea, but he couldn’t get the better of Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) down into Tamburello. However, on the run to Acque Minerale, Davies suffered an electrical problem and was forced to retire, handing Rea the lead while Davies’ teammate Bautista had second.
At the end of the opening lap, Rea and Bautista had the leading positions, Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) occupied third and Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was riding well from eighth on the grid to be in fourth. Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) completed the top five while Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK Team) slipped to sixth. One of the biggest movers and shakers on the opening lap was Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing), moving up from 11th to seventh.
As the race took shape, Rea built a comfortable lead and was extending his advantage over Bautista by around seven-tenths of a second per lap. Sykes experienced misfortune with the BMW S 1000 RR suffering more mechanical gremlins, robbing the 2013 WorldSBK champ of a likely podium.
Sykes’ demise promoted a huge battle between van der Mark and Razgatlioglu for the final podium position. The Turkish star made his move in the closing stages and got ahead of van der Mark. The two riders swapped paint and traded blows on the penultimate lap, colliding twice and bringing Haslam back into the mix.
Meanwhile, in a league of his own, Rea blitzed the opposition in a vintage fashion, taking his first win of the season to end the run of victories by Bautista. The Spaniard maintains a healthy championship lead with a second-place finish. In the battle for third, Toprak held on for his third career WorldSBK podium. Van der Mark and Haslam completed the top five.
It was Rea’s eighth win at Imola, ending his longest winless drought since 2013. It was the 128th win for Kawasaki in WorldSBK.
WorldSBK returns to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship GEICO Motorcycle U.S. Round with MotoAmerica July 12-14.