The first 25-lap WSBK race of the Laguna Seca weekend was dominated by the Kawasaki factory riders, with Jonathan Rea eventually claiming the win from team-mate Tom Sykes.
Each had led the race on two occasions, with Rea upping his pace enough at the end to finish 0.819 seconds ahead Sykes. This was Rea’s first race win at the 3.610km long American venue.
From the start of the battle at the intense Laguna Seca circuit the action was close and combative. Overtakes were put in between the leading trio of Rea, Sykes and Ducati factory rider Chaz Davies at the largely one-line circuit but on lap five Davies fell and was unable to restart.
When the shadowing figure of Ducati’s Davide Giugliano also fell from third place, the fight was on between Rea and Sykes, and Rea eased out his lead after re-passing Sykes with five laps to go. Pushing on in the dry but windy conditions, Rea recorded his eighth win of the season and the 37th of his career – his latest victory kept his 100 per cent podium finishing record intact in the best possible way.
With Sykes close behind him at the flag Rea still extended his championship lead over his team-mate to 71 points – 368 to 297 – with one more race to come on Sunday at Laguna, before the start of the long summer break.
Earlier on Saturday Sykes had won Superpole to earn his seventh pole position starting place of the year, and the 37th of his career. Rea had qualified only 0.055 seconds behind and was second on the grid.
Jonathan Rea, said: “I am super happy to have won here and now that we have had 25 laps on the bike in race conditions we have good information for tomorrow, to try and improve again. I am happy with the result but it was, honestly, not my most beautiful race because I made quite a lot of mistakes. I am sure when I watch it back I will be quite upset with myself but the most important thing is the 25 points for winning. That is good for everything – for the morale of the team and the championship. We have one more race tomorrow and it will be important to do a good job then before the start of the eight week summer break.”