WSBK: Rea keeps title dream alive with Race Two win at Misano

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Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea took the 75th WSBK win of his career to slash Ducati’s  Alvaro championship lead to just 16 points with his second victory of the weekend at Misano.

The reigning champion, looking to recover after slipping off  in the Superpole sprint race which Bautista won, was handed a golden opportunity when Bautista low-sided off while leading on the second lap at Turn 4.

With the stricken Spaniard rejoining the race in last place and more than 40-seconds back on the leaders, Rea set about hunting down Kawasaki team-mate Leon Haslam with Puccetti Kawasaki’s Toprak Razgatlioglu also in the front group.

After the Turkish rider charged into the lead at the start of Lap 5, Rea pushed Haslam into third place as he began his dash to the front and 25 valuable championship points.

Rea caught and stalked Razgatlioglu as the pair burst clear of Haslam and the chasing pack, with the four-time world champion making his move into the lead for the first time with three laps to go diving up the inside at Turn 1.

But Razgatlioglu demonstrated why he his so highly coveted in the paddock, sticking to the rear wheel of Rea over the closing laps before diving deep up the inside at Turn 4 to reclaim the lead on the final lap.

However, the Turkish rider drifted wide and Rea was able to dive back into the lead to take a vital victory and the 75th win of his WSBK career.

Rea said: “Winning two races at Misano was good for us, especially the two important races. Unfortunately in the Superpole Race today I made a big mistake in turn ten, when I lost the front. But I restarted to finish fifth which was all important for the weekend.

“Race Two today was a tough one because the temperature was hot. I was very unsure of the pace. I felt like it was slow but I did not want to push any faster. I saw Alvaro go down very early in the race and the conditions out there were very tough, especially for the front tyre. The rear was just not digging in and going forward, it was just spinning so much – but we won, which was the main thing. It was a super-nice day for Kawasaki because we put three bikes on the Race Two podium. Team Suzuka! Donington next and we will go to every track with an open mentality.”

With Razgatlioglu and Haslam completing an all-Kawasaki podium, Yamaha’s Alex Lowes secured fourth place for Pata Yamaha with Michael Ruben Rinaldi  finishing top Ducati in fifth.

Tom Sykes finished sixth on the BMW, ahead of Chaz Davies on the Ducati in seventh, wildcard Michele Pirro in eight with Lorenzo Zanetti on the Team Goeleven Ducati who is standing in for the injured Eugene Laverty finishing ninth. Jordi Torres rounded out the top 10 for Pedercini Kawasaki.

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WSBK: Rea wins wet Race One at Misano

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The Italian weather once again threw a spanner in the WSBK works with heavy rain hitting Misano. So hard in fact that the red flag was brought out on the sighting lap for Race One. With Sunday’s racing in Imola being cancelled earlier in the season because of torrential rain, teams and fans looked to the sky…would the same fate hit Misano?

After a delay, a restart was planned for 14:24 with a quick-start procedure; one mechanic and one minute.

The race started with Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea leading Sandro Cortese on the satellite Yamaha and BMW’s Tom Sykes, before Yamaha’s Alex Lowes passed the chase trio with an audacious move around the outside. Champions leader Alvaro Bautista then pounced to take fourth place from Cortese, with Lowes taking the lead into turn on Lap Two. Lowes then set the fastest lap as the leading pair broke free of Sykes in third place, pulling out a gap of more than a second.

Lap Three saw Lowes set the fastest lap again, with the rain returning with a vengeance, and the red flags came out. Again.

After another downpour, the weather eased and the race restarted,  with the grid being determined by the results of the red flagged session, meaning Lowes, Rea and Sykes were  on the front row, Bautista, Davies and Haslam on the second row and Cortese, Pirro and Baz on the third row., with another quick-start procedure ahead of an 18-lap race.

The restart opened with Rea and Tom Sykes getting past Lowes, but Lowes quickly sn rapped back. passing riders round the outside with another brave move to take second place. Bautista briefly held third place, powering past Sykes in a straight only for Sykes to outbreak him in the treacherous conditions to snatch third place back.

Rea and Lowes were the class act of the field and were almost two seconds clear of Sykes after just one lap. Rea set the fastest lap a lap later, with the leading pair extending their lead to more than three seconds ahead of Sykes and Chaz Davies, Bautista and Leon Haslam.

With lightning filling the sky, and the grandstands rapidly emptying, Lowes dived into the lead on Lap Seven and began to put the hammer down,  riding hard to eke out a gap, but he was too greedy on Lap Eight, losing the front and sliding out. The crash gifted the lead to Rea and he never looked back, managing the gap to take the chequered flag to win by 3.692 seconds ahead of Sykes, with Bautista finishing third.

Rea said: “I had done next to zero laps in the wet this season, even in winter testing. The first time we came across the wet was in morning warm-up at Imola. The gamble to stay inside the box in the wet morning warm up today still paid off, but we did not expect the rain clouds to come for the race. I was very nervous as we did not really have a wet set-up. So we just tried to maximise our potential, ride my own race and our bike works well in these conditions. It is a very stable bike but the track was changing lap-to-lap. Sometimes we had a lot of surface water, sometimes zero surface water. You need much more concentration in a wet race, because the bike is moving much more underneath you and you have to be very precise, especially with the white lines and the kerbs. When Alex came past I was not prepared to take that risk to go that fast. When I was leading the race I tried to manage my rhythm and the gap to behind. Arturo my mechanic was super-good with my pit-board so I could enjoy the last lap.”

Rea’s race win, for which he thanked his pit board handler, closed the gain the overall rider standings to Alvaro Bautista to 31 points.

New metal: Ducati Streetfighter V4

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Here it is, the Ducati Streetfighter V4, the bike racer Carlin Dunne will race at Pikes Peak.

The course is a challenge: there are 156 turns and thousands of feet in elevation, and is the perfect testing ground for the prototype machine ahead of the 2020 launch of the Ducati Streetfighter V4 production bike.

In keeping with tradition, the Streetfighter V4 derives directly from the sporty Panigale V4 stripped of its fairings, and fitted with high and wide handlebars, while the high performance of the 1100cc Desmosedici Stradale will be kept in by aerodynamic profiles specifically designed for this model.

The prototype will race with a “pixelated” livery, designed by the Centro Stile Ducati; unlike the normal practice with prototypes, the livery does not hide the lines, but accentuates them by deliberately revealing how the bike will finally look.

Tested: Alpinestars GP Pro R3 gloves

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These racy gloves are made out of a mixture of kangaroo, treated cow hide and goat hide, and feature a whole host of state-of-the- art protection taken derived from experiences learnt in MotoGP and WSBK – Kevlar stitching, super touch armour on the knuckles and dual- compound hard sliders. They also feature Alpinestars clever double cuff fastener which has DFS on the cuff and the company’s patented finger bridge, which prevents finger roll and separation in the event of a spill.

On the bike the fit is just right, being long enough in the finger without having any excess material at the fingertips and they’re reassuringly protective while being supple enough to offer good feel at the bars and levers. And that double cuff makes getting the glove on and off easy, while also ensuring that they’re not going to go anywhere once they’re on.

New kit: Alpinestars ‘Rea 2019’ Limited Edition Supertech R boot

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Alpinestars has launched a new Limited Edition Supertech R boots, the ‘Rea 2019’.

Jonathan Rea is the most successful rider in World Superbike Championship history. With four back-to-back world titles under his belt, 2018 saw him equaling the existing record of 17 wins in a single season with his 11th consecutive victory. His final win, under the spotlights at Losail, was his 56th for Kawasaki; a record for a single rider with a single manufacturer in WSBK.

Alpinestars has provided Jonathan’s performance protection technology throughout his WSBK career and to celebrate his achievements on the track, Alpinestars has launched the Limited Edition ‘Rea 2019’ Supertech R boot. Featuring a red, green and black design derived from his own signature style and the Kawasaki WSBK team, the unique graphics allow fans of ‘JR’ to enjoy all the technical innovations of Alpinestars class-leading Supertech R boot in a distinctive, premium race boot fit for Champions.

The WSBK race weekend at the iconic Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli holds fond memories for Jonathan who took double victories at the track in 2016 and 2018 on his way to the WSBK crown. It is fitting then that Alpinestars most iconic road riding boot should be worn by the most successful Superbike rider ever, at a circuit that has been a happy hunting ground in past years.

Tested: Alpinestars KIR CiR Chest Protector

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This fully CE-approved chest protector is designed to protect the sternum and chest from high speed impacts.

It is made from soft, flexible and breathable shock absorbing material which is combined with dense and lightweight layers of foam to disperse energy quickly and evenly over its surface in the event of an off.

Wearing it couldn’t be simpler; just slip in to your leathers and the clever design, which allows the protector to effectively mold to the contours of your chest as it heats up means it stays snugly in place. It’s so comfy and unobtrusive I don’t even notice it’s there. This is a must for trackdays and fast road riding.

Five minutes with TT Zero winner Michael Rutter…

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Michael Rutter has taken his seventh career Isle of Man TT victory by successfully defending his TT Zero crown with Mugen setting a new lap record for the electric bikes. The Bathams Mugen rider kept clear of team-mate John McGuinness to win by 8.566s in the single-lap TT Zero race and set a new lap record of 121.91mph.

We caught up with him after his win to talk about the kit that helps him achieve success…

“I have been racing now for more than 30 years and I have been with Alpinestars for a good few years now. I can’t imagine wearing anything else; the fit and the feel with Alpinestars is extraordinary. It is a totally different level. If it wasn’t for Alpinestars I would have given up racing a long time ago. They are that good. Everything is done right.

“I race with an airbag. I was nervous about racing with an airbag, but I then had a crash at Brands Hatch. It was just incredible. The standard suit is brilliant and I have never had a problem with it, but the extra security from an airbag suit gives you that bit more confidence. You see the light flashing before you head out, then it goes to green…it’s so reassuring.

“I like the fact that the airbag and the back protector is all in one. I forget I have the system in the suit. Basically when you move on the bike it feels like you have room to move. It’s so unobtrusive but reassuring.

“I have been coming to the TT since I was born. I watched my dad race here and win. The TT is everything for me. I have been here as many years as I can, and I’ve missed exams at school to be here. To win a TT, I never thought I would. I have been lucky enough to win a few TTs now. The TT is the ultimate in road racing. To go off at ten second intervals and race against the clock and the road, and then standing at the podium at the end when you’ve won a race is just incredible.”

“If I could ride any bike, it would be my RCV213 race bike. It’s phenomenal. The feel of the bike, the riding style, the engine and the sound of it is just fantastic. It’s like a mini MotGP bike for the road. I just wish I was 20 years younger to have a proper run out with it.”

Tested: V4 1100 Factory APRC

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I’ve had this bike for a week now and put quite simply, this is the best bike I’ve ever ridden by a country mile…and I’m still grinning now. I make no apologies if this review comes across as a gushing love letter to this bike…the V4 1100 Factory APRC has moved me and got under my skin like no other bike has to date. It’s addictive, intoxicating and the way it mixes state-of-the-art technology derived from Aprilia’s participation in WSBK with blistering performance means it never fails to entertain.

So what’s the difference between the standard RR and the Factory? Well, this bike comes with fully-adjustable Öhlins rear shock, forks and steering damper and the simply stunning ‘Superpole’ paint scheme, which really suits the bike and is exquisitely finished in the metal.

Swing a leg over this narrow bundle of fun, turn the key, thumb the starter and the 1077cc V4 engine barks into life with a deep, throaty roar. The soundtrack delivered by the Arrow exhaust is ear bleedingly loud and each blip of the throttle is greeted with an aggressive snarl. It feels comfortable too – the riding position feels low and the reach to the flat, tapered bars is spot on, as are the pegs, and they easily accommodate my long limbs.

A quick glance towards the bike’s clock show a dash dominated by a sleek and easy-to-read rev counter that goes all the way to 15,000rpm. There’s no TFT display here, instead you get Aprilia’s traditional square unit showing speed, gear position, traction control setting and range.

On the move and the V4 1100 Factory APRC makes light work of town work. The engine feels civilised, with the ride-by-wire throttle meting out power predictably and smoothly with just a hint of snatch in first, although you’re always aware of the sheer brute force available on tap with a twist of your right hand. The steering feels light, and while the steering lock isn’t great, it’s not so bad as to be restrictive.

Heading out of town and the first thing that becomes noticeable is just how effective the new nose fairing and cowl is at cosseting the rider from the wind. It’s really efficient and provides much more protection than a naked bike has any right to offer.

As speed and revs rise, the second thing that grabs your attention is the engine – the V4 is a weapon and explodes into life with every twist of the throttle. It’s savage, and as the revs rise the surge is so ferocious that the front wheel will be pawing the air with every gear change. And get the engine howling above 7000rpm and the bike changes from a beauty into a beast as all that power propels the bike forward with a time warping urgency. The acceleration is savage, the quick-revving engine delivering huge amounts of rapid grunt, giving the bike superbike levels of performance with every touch of the quickshifter. And that quickshifter is good, really good, seamlessly building speed and adding a satisfying pop to the V4’s booming feral soundtrack with every upshift.

This is a bike that’s mind numbingly fast, but it’s agile too and is just as happy on its ear. The RF wheels allow it to turn in quickly and accurately with the lightest of touches, and the Swedish suspension offers loads of feedback, taking the Tuono’s cornering brilliance to another level, inspiring huge levels of confidence and urging you to brake later and get on the throttle earlier in every corner.

But all this performance is easy to control, thanks to that throttle and the sophisticated WSBK-derived APRC electronics package which includes on-the-move traction control, launch control, wheelie control and Race ABS. There are also three riding modes – Track, Sport and Road – and although the power output always remains the same, the throttle response and delivery is adjusted depending on the mode.

And should things ever threaten to get out of control – which they won’t – the Brembo M432 monoblocs rapidly and effortlessly scrub speed with retina bleeding efficiency.

I’ve racked up 1750 miles in the seven days we’ve been together, and the only weakness in the Factory’s impressive armoury is the price – there’s no getting away from the fact that it comes with huge price tag. But for me personally, it’s worth every penny. I’ve tested some 300 bikes over the years and no bike has moved me like this. It’s by far the best road-going performance bike I’ve ever tested and the blend of WSBK-derived rider aids, the V4’s performance and the distinctive soundtrack delivered by that phenomenal engine mean I’m still grinning now. Everyone should ride one at least once in their lives…

Tested: Alpinestars Atem v3 1-PC leathers

This one-piece suit is fully CE-certified in its entirety, not just in specific areas, and every part of the garment conforms to the CE standard2016/425 for riding safety. As you’d expect from a CE-certified suit, it boasts some pretty impressive spec. The suit is made from high grade, highly abrasion resistant 1.3mm leather, which is reinforced in the impact zones (bum, hips and elbows) and it’s full of technology proven in MotoGP and WSBK, including the familiar sturdy plastic external armour on the shoulders, knees and elbows to stop the suit gripping the tarmac in the event of a spill.

Then there’s the removable CE armour that sits below the leather on the shoulders, elbows, knees, hips, tibia and shins.

But all that protection is as good as useless if the suit doesn’t fit properly, and it’s here that the Atem v3 excels. The stretch panels on the chest, crotch, inside of the arms and back of the legs works together with the accordion panels on the shoulders, lower back, elbows and knees to ensure the suit fits properly. It means I could drop down a size to get a proper snug fit.

Other features include the ubiquitous aerodynamic speed hump, extensive perforations on the upper and lower body and hump for improved ventilation, neoprene on the collars and cuffs to prevent chafing, a removable liner and a clever 3D mesh that allows a pocket of air to sit between you and the leather, which makes the suit extremely breathable.

I’ve ridden some 2500 miles in it over a week’s touring, as well as several fast laps over the Mountain, and it was just as comfortable on the roads grinding out the miles as it was scratching around the TT course. The venting is really effective and the suit itself is really comfortable – all the armour sits exactly where it should do.

Tested: Alpinestars Supertech R Boots

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These boots offer the best of both worlds – they’re brilliantly comfortable straight out of the box while being reassuringly protective. They’re the same boots you see Marquez, Lorenzo, Crutchlow, Dovizioso and Quartararo wearing in MotoGP and all this on-track crash research means they’re proven.

The superb level of protection these boots offer is mainly thanks to their construction – the Supertech R actually consists of two boots; an inner and an outer.

The inner boot has been designed to absorb any knocks while also reducing ankle twist and features a four-link system that effectively links the calf collar to the reinforced heel cup. It sounds uncomfortable but it isn’t, thanks largely to the inner boot’s lightweight mesh fabric construction. The inner boot also features a shoehorn shaped piece of plastic connected to the heel cup to protect the Achilles tendon and the boot itself is held to the rider’s foot by an internal Carbon/Kevlar mix lace which has been designed to reduce bulk and weight.

The synthetic leather outer boot features a soft, grippy suede-style material on the inside to stop your bike’s bodywork from being scratched and scuffed, elasticated tops, extensive and effective vents and a brilliant zip, Velcro, ratchet system that makes getting the boots on and off a doodle. Again there’s lots of protection. Every surface has been designed to slide and not grip in the event of a spill – there’s also lots of sturdy plastic on the heel, a sturdy but flexible sole and replaceable toe sliders.

These boots are easily the most comfortable boots I’ve ever worn and they’re equally at home on the bike churning out the miles from Italy to the Isle of Man in a day or blasting over the Mountain as they are off the bike watching the racing at the TT.

Expensive but worth every penny.