wsBK: Por­tu­gal and France

Jonathan Rea, the North­ern Irish Kawasaki rider, wins his third cham­pi­onship with the green team

Bike India - - CONTENTS - RE­PORT: RAVI CHAND­NANI PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: LULOP.COM

TWelVe tOP place fin­ishes, in­clud­ing four dou­ble wins, and 20 podium fin­ishes have en­abled Jonathan Rea of Kawasaki Rac­ing Team to claim his third WSBK ti­tle. The bat­tle among Jonathan Rea, his team-mate, Tom Sykes, and Aruba.it Du­cati rider Chaz Davies started in Aus­tralia where Rea dom­i­nated the grid by win­ning both the races on the

week­end. His ri­vals, how­ever, were not far off; for they too fol­lowed him on the podium. Two weeks later, the North­ern Irish rider and de­fend­ing cham­pion went on to re­peat the same re­sults in Thai­land at the Buri­ram Cir­cuit.

The fight among the top three rid­ers in­ten­si­fied as WSBK moved from coun­try to coun­try but Rea al­ways man­aged to find him­self on the podium. In the third round in Spain, Rea was able to win the first race. Race two, how­ever, saw Davies reign supreme, rel­e­gat­ing Rea to P2 on the podium. Rea made a strong come­back at TT Assen, win­ning both the race and gain­ing some se­ri­ous points for the cham­pi­onship.

Un­til the Por­tuguese round, the cham­pi­onship was open; how­ever, Rea was in a dif­fer­ent zone al­to­gether at Por­ti­mao. He oblit­er­ated the com­pe­ti­tion by claim­ing a rather easy dou­ble vic­tory which saw him go from lights to che­quered flag in a flaw­less way in both the races. His clos­est ri­val and Aruba.it Du­cati rider, Chaz Davies, tried his best to haul the champ in race one and ex­tend the fight fur­ther; how­ever, he only man­aged to get a sec­ond-place fin­ish in race one. In race

two, Rea again was flaw­less in his rid­ing, though Davies again tried to fight the champ the Welsh rider crashed out of the race three laps be­fore the che­quered flag. This al­lowed Pata Yamaha rider Michael van der Mark to claim sec­ond with Marco Me­landri com­plet­ing the top three.

Rea had al­most closed the cham­pi­onship at Por­ti­mao but it was now time for him to seal the deal, which he did at the 11th round. In France, the stage was set for Rea to take his third cham­pi­onship as the rid­ers lined up at the start-fin­ish at Magny Cours. Rea’s team-mate, Tom Sykes, who sat out of the Por­ti­mao round ow­ing to an in­jured fin­ger, made his come­back in France and, as the lights went out, the Kawasaki duo took off like a rocket. Davies was in the con­tention at the be­gin­ning of race one but he ran into trou­ble when elec­tronic grem­lins plagued his Pani­gale, forc­ing him to slow down. Nev­er­the­less, the sec­ond Du­cati, rid­den by Marco Me­landri, kept the fight alive through­out the race. Marco was run­ning in P3 for most of the race; how­ever, on the last lap, the Ital­ian over­took Tom Sykes to bag the sec­ond place. When the dust set­tled, it was Jonathan Rea who was cel­e­brat­ing as he had just claimed his third con­sec­u­tive WSBK ti­tle to the de­light of all his fans and fel­low North­ern Irish peo­ple.

Rea might have been happy with his race one re­sults and cham­pi­onship ti­tle but his bit­ter ri­val, Chaz Davies, was the one who cel­e­brated at the end of race two by win­ning it. The Welsh rider made a su­perb come­back in race two af­ter a dis­ap­point­ing 10th-place fin­ish in race one. He quickly slipped into the lead, fol­lowed by the two Pata Yamaha R1s of Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark. Rea, how­ever, crashed out of the race early on. At the end it was Kawasaki who cel­e­brated their man­u­fac­tur­ers’ ti­tle as Tom Sykes man­aged to fin­ish seventh, just enough to earn the team the 2017 man­u­fac­tur­ers’ ti­tle.

The sec­ond place in the rid­ers’ cham­pi­onship is still open as Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes is only nine points ahead of Chaz Davies. With such a slim mar­gin be­tween the two and two more rounds to go, we are sure that Davies will try his best to bag the sec­ond spot in the cham­pi­onship.

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