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WORLD SUPERBIKES

Rea takes opening race before second race cancelled due to heavy rain

The Ducati pairing were left to duel in the wake of Jonathan Rea, who took his 73rd career win! The first race of the third day of action at Imola was the Tissot Superpole Race, which provided fireworks once more. On a damp but drying circuit, there was drama before the race even started, as Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) missed the warm up lap and was forced to start from pit lane. The 2013 WorldSBK champion had work to do in the early stages.

With the race underway, Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) got the jump from pole position, whilst Race 1 winner Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) went side-by-side with the Welshman, having to wait his turn at Turn 2. Championship leader Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) was third whilst Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) held fourth.

With the race settling down, a mistake from Chaz Davies at the final chicane allowed Rea and Bautista to get ahead of him. Davies now had to put in the hard work all over again, as the reigning champion began to pull out an advantage. a big battle unfolded for fourth place, this time with Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) leading the battle from Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing), Alex Lowes and Haslam, who had once again dropped down the order after a combative couple of laps from the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team riders. Toprak Razgatlioglu however wouldn’t stay in the fight long, as he began to drop back through the field, with his Superpole Race tyre not able to go the distance. Similarly, Alvaro Bautista, who had also opted for the same compound, began to drop back towards his teammate and with just five laps to go at the second part of Rivazza, Davies squeezed down the inside.

Then, the two dominant forces of WorldSBK in the past four seasons - Rea and Davies – went head-to-head in terms of lap times, right on lap record pace and both having to keep the pace up right until the end. The gap momentarily came down to below a second, but Davies was unable to get on terms with Jonathan Rea, whilst Bautista rode answerless in third position.

Down the field, there were some phenomenal rides, with Tom Sykes rocketing up the order and making short work of those in his sights. Soon, he was ahead of Jordi Torres (team Pedercini Racing) with just one lap to go and his attention turned to toppling Toprak, who was now losing time hand over fist. Another stunning ride was completed by Tommy Bridewell (Team Goeleven), who blitzed through the order on the opening lap to get to 11th place from his row six starting place.

However, at the front, Jonathan Rea took the win, his second of the season and his first in the Tissot Superpole Race. Davies and Bautista came home behind him, whilst Michael van der Mark took his best Imola result. Lowes was back inside the top five, with Leon Haslam placed in sixth. Razgatlioglu was caught but not passed by Sykes, as they finished seventh and eighth respectively, whilst Jordi Torres was ninth. Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) completed the top ten.

Following severe rain on Sunday in Imola, and after lengthy delays, the decision was finally made to cancel WorldSBK Race 2 and WorldSSP 300 races of the Pirelli Italian Round at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola. With the heavy rain failing to stop, conditions deteriorated and therefore Race Direction and the Safety Commission took the difficult decision to cancel Sunday’s races in order to guarantee riders’ safety.

Unfortunately, this signals an early end to the fifth WorldSBK round of the season, which currently sees Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) with 263 points leading the WorldSBK championship standings followed by Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in second position and Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) in third position. In WorldSSP300 Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) maintains the lead with full points after having won both the first two races of the 2019 season.

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