WSBK: Assen and Imola
Action-packed 200th WSBK race for Jonathan Rea, and a controversy
THE STAGE WAS SET FOR THE TOP KAWASAKI
Racing Team rider and defending champion, Jonathan Rea, who claimed his third double victory at Assen; however, it came with a huge controversy. During Superpole 2, Rea managed to break the lap record and take P1 for the race. On his cool-down lap, however, the two-time WSBK champion blocked Aruba.it Ducati rider Chaz Davies, who was on his final qualifying lap. Davies had to abort the lap because of Rea, which did not give the Welsh rider any scope for improvement. Davies eventually stayed put in P3.
A heated argument ensued in Parc Ferme where the Ducati rider confronted the Kawasaki man. The incident was then picked up by Race Direction, who handed Rea a penalty that saw the northern Irish rider start on the second row, in P4.
With Rea in P4 and Davies in P2, it was going to be an intense battle between the two. As the lights went out, it was clear that Davies was going to be tough to beat. The Welsh rider quickly slipped into the lead with Rea following closely in P2. Rea kept challenging Davies throughout the race, but the two hardly traded positions. Meanwhile, behind the fighting duo, a cool and calm Tom Sykes was busy defending his position from the second Aruba.it Ducati of Marco Melandri.
The top four places remained practically unaltered right until the penultimate lap, when Davies ran wide, handing the lead over to Rea. Davies tried hard on the last lap but his Panigale lost power, signalling the end of the race for the Ducati rider. With Davies out, it was Rea who claimed his sixth win of the season. Sykes and Melandri also benefited from Davies’ misfortune as both of them finished on the podium.
After a disappointing race one, Davies was all set to retaliate and emerge victorious in race two, or so he hoped. As the race got under way, Sykes, Rea, and Davies made quick progress, with Rea and Sykes leading the pack within the first three laps. Davies, who had started on P10, struggled a little before making it to P3 on lap seven. By then the Kawasaki duo had already built up a sizeable lead.
With Davies out of contention, the battle between Rea and Sykes intensified. In fact, both the riders took it down to the wire, crossing the finish line together. Nevertheless, it was Jonathan Rea who claimed his third consecutive double victory by 0.025 seconds. Rea won his 200th WSBK race in style and extended his championship lead by 64 points. Sykes’ second place gave him enough points to retain his number two position on the championship table, and in third place was Davies, who finished the race five seconds behind Rea.