Northern Irish rider Jonathan Rea has been crowned WSBK World Champion after securing enough points after the first race to secure the title.
Rea has been dominant on the ZX-10R this season, crushing the field and helping Kawasaki to its first manufacturer’s title.
In Race 1 reals team-mate Tom Sykes got off the line well with Rea in hot pursuit, followed by Ducati rider Niccolò Canepa on the Althea Racing bike. In the third lap Canepa crashed and was forced to give up several positions, with Ducati factory rider Chaz Davies moving into third place, and eventually passing Rea for second on lap seven.
Rea was overtaken on by Van der Mark on lap 11, before Rea and Leon Haslam had an epic fight four fourth place, the northern Irishman eventually prevailing and claiming his maiden WSBK title.
Speaking after the race, Rea said: “Last season I signed a contract with Kawasaki at this very track, so it’s really fitting that we lifted the world championship today. Right now it hasn’t sunk in. When my mechanics were putting the #1 sticker on my bike on the slowdown lap it felt really strange. I’m just so happy and grateful for this opportunity.
“There have been many hard times too. Moments like this are even more special because of the amount of challenges I’ve faced with injuries, a broken wrist, and more recently in 2013 with a bad fracture of my femur at the Nurburgring.
Rea went on to reveal the epic duel title showdown between Colin Edwards and Troy Bayliss at Imola was one of the factors that prompted him to challenge in the world series.
“When I was watching the 2002 championship between Colin Edwards and Troy Bayliss I got so much inspiration. It became my dream. Even in the toughest times I never doubted my ability. We’re here today and hopefully this can inspire some other young riders who are racing to never give up on their dream.”
On the slowdown lap Rea made three stops to change helmets – two of those he wore were those of the last riders from Northern Ireland to claim motorcycle world championships, Joey Dunlop and Brian Reid. ”
Race 2 saw Tom Sykes gain an another excellent start. The British rider created a sizeable gap in the first lap, with Chaz Davies and Jordi Torres battling hard for second place.
However, in the 11th lap Ducati rider Chaz Davies overtook Tom Sykes for the lead, and just a lap later Jordi Torres, Leon Haslam and Michael Van der Mark also passed the Race 1 winner, with teammate Rea managing the same feat on lap 15. However, Rea’s fourth place and Sykes’ fifth place were enough for Kawasaki to secure the Manufacturer’s Championship.