WSBK: Rea tops the timesheet at pre-season test at Jerez


Glorious sunshine basked the Circuito de Jerez Angel Nieto once again for the second of a two-day test in Southern Spain, where four WSBK teams continued to work on their 2019 set-ups.

More than 600 laps of the 4.2km circuit were run by the eight riders, and steps were made ahead of what is set to be a sensational season with new bikes, new teams and new riders. Despite this, it was still four time world champion Jonathan Rea who led the way on the Kawasaki.

Rea continued with his sensational pace out on track for the second and final day of testing, as the 2018 world champion was continuing to work on getting the chassis in tune with the engine on his ZX-10RR. Explaining that his new bike offers even more potential than the 2018 Ninja, he was a force to be reckoned with, setting the fastest lap time of 1.38.713. On the other side of the garage, new team-mate Leon Haslam was left with one bike after a big crash on Monday. However, this didn’t stop the Brit putting the laps in, as he reached more than 100 on the second day. Ending the day in third with a time of 1.39.766, Haslam was able to continue with his base setting of the ZX-10RR and will take some strong pace into the winter.

It was a telling two days for the Pata Yamaha official WSBK team, as they began to understand the work they will need to do to bridge the gap to the green and red machines out on track. Working through their small updates for 2019, Alex Lowes had a strong test sitting in second position for most of the day, bridging the gap to fastest man Rea. It was a tough test for team-mate Michael van der Mark who was riding with a fractured wrist sustained from his crash in Qatar. Working to get more grip and acceleration on exit amongst other factors, Lowes finished in second position overall, 0.664s off Rea’s pace while van der Mark was sixth and 1.379s behind.

Lessons continued to be learnt for the Racing Ducati squad with Chaz Davies and Alvaro Bautista getting to grips with the all-new Panigale V4 R. Davies is continuing to struggle with his shoulder injury sustained over the summer break, meaning he isn’t riding at 100%, and used the test to focus on electronics and throttle connection on his new machine, posting the fifth overall fastest time. Bautista had a more challenging second day with his V4 R, suffering two crashes during the day around Circuito de Jerez Angel Nieto. Able to walk away from both crashes, Bautista was still happy with the bike as he works on his base set-up. Putting in an impressive pace on his debut, Bautista was able to finish in fourth, with a lap time of 1.39.845.

For new WSBK team GRT Yamaha, Sandro Cortese and Marco Melandri spent time getting to get to grips with the YZF-R1. Happy with the progress they have made, 2018 WSSP champion Cortese was still working on adapting and adjusting to an WSBK machine, while Melandri was working on his base setting and with the Pirelli tyres.

Unofficial Combined Times Jerez Day Two:

  1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1.38.713
  2. Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) 1.39.377 (+0.664)
  3. Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1.39.766 (+1.053)
  4. Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) 1.39.845 (+1.132)
  5. Chaz Davies ( Racing – Ducati) 1.39.852 (+1.139)
  6. Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) 1.40.092 (+1.379)
  7. Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha Team) 1.40.235 (+1.522)
  8. Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha Team) 1.40.592 (+1.879)

WSBK: imperious Rea continues winning streak with Race One victory in Qatar


2018 WSBK champion Jonathan Rea continued his impressive form, taking a commanding win in the opening race under the floodlights at Losail and equalling the existing record of 17 wins in a single season with his 11th consecutive victory.

Despite not starting on pole, Rea took the holeshot into turn one and from then on ran at his own pace to add yet another win to his impressive haul, his 56th for Kawasaki; a record for a single rider with a single manufacturer in WorldSBK. Eleven race wins in succession also moved Rea’s recent record of ten consecutive races on by one.

Sykes was on strong form from the start at Losail this weekend and extended his career Superpole record with a 1’56.124 lap in SP2 that just edged our Rea by 0.131 seconds.

Speaking after the race, Rea said: “There is a lot of hard work done to arrive in this position. It is really difficult; to build the package, the team atmosphere and a feeling with the bike. This weekend I have not quite felt myself on the bike and I said to my guys yesterday evening that this game is so much about confidence. We have been lucky this year in that I have had such a great feeling with the bike and that we have had that little bit extra. That gives you confidence and you are able to ride in a certain way. That is how it is done; that confidence the bike gives me, working with the team. Every time we are struggling, or my confidence is down, my crew chief Pere Riba finds a way to re-invent that, and turn things around. I am really grateful for that. People can find a good team and a good bike, and a good team can find a good rider, but trying to put all the elements together is really difficult.”

Race two will take place on Saturday the 29th of October 2018, again under the floodlights at 19.00 local time.

WSBK: Record-breaking Rea dominates Race Two in Argentina


On the same weekend that Kawasaki won the WSBK Manufacturers’ Championship, Jonathan Rea wrote his name in the history books by racing to his tenth consecutive victory.

Heavy overnight rain the second race day at the all new San Juan Villicum circuit threw up even more unknown challenges for the field, but it made no difference to Rea, who dominated the race once again.

Rea, launching from ninth on the grid after his Race One win on Saturday, had to use all his skill to pass his rivals on a new track surface that had one clear racing line. Into second place by Lap Four, Rea chased down the fast-starting leader Xavi Fores on the Barni Ducati on Lap Nine and set about recording his unique fifth double winning weekend in succession.

The win was even more impressive given that the four-time champion was taken ill on Saturday evening and was awake most of the night.

In recording his 55th victory on a Kawasaki, as part of his career record of 70 race wins in all, Rea has now equalled the greatest number of wins scored with a single manufacturer in WSBK racing.

Rea’s 16th win of the season has also taken him to within one victory of equalling the record of race wins in a single year, with two races remaining at the final round.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “It is really special to come to a new track, where everyone starts from zero, and be able to take the same kind of results. To be fast in the hot conditions and keep our tyre that was the key to the race. It was probably the hardest race win from the third row of the grid. If I went off line to pass, I could not be creative with my line choices. Everybody was pretty much on the same line so the passes had to be set up a few corners in advance. Once I settled into my rhythm I was able to clock off the lap times and pick off riders one by one. When I got clear track to Fores I tracked him down quite fast, but then there was the matter of passing him. Today has been difficult because I caught some kind of virus last night. I was ill all night from one o’clock until five this morning. It was good to have the race at 4pm because most of the day I have been sleeping in the cabin, regaining energy!”

WSBK: dominant Rea equals race-winning record in Argentina


Kawasaki rider Jonathan Rea dominated in Argentina to win a record-equalling ninth WSBK race in succession at the all-new Villicum circuit, ensuring that Kawasaki won the Manufacturers’ Championship for the 2018 season.

Under greying skies and in front of an enthusiastic crowd Rea had started from second position on the grid after Superpole qualifying, getting a good launch from the startline  into the downhill first corner and taking a lead that he was to enjoy for the entire race, setting a new lap record of 1’39.175 and coming very close to breaking the Superpole record in the process.

High winds were a factor for all riders to deal with and even occasional spots of rain appeared for a time. The threat of heavier rain passed and in the final laps Rea was able to bring it home with a huge advantage of 9.163 seconds to the second placed rider, Marco Melandri on the Ducati.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “It was an incredible way to do it today. To take the manufacturers’ championship with a race win was really nice. Especially to win for the first time in Villicum and Argentina. It is a technical track, it has got everything. I was always worried about coming here because everyone starts from an equal base. The teams that react the fastest, and make the best setup in a short space of time, are the ones that would do well. There was a lot of side wind today and it was buffeting me around a lot. There were spots of rain at one time and I just tried to convince myself it was not raining. The facilities, the new track, the spectators; it has been a pretty awesome weekend so far.”

In the Manufacturers’ Championship Kawasaki has an unassailable lead of 92 points, with a maximum of 75 points left to play for. This was the fourth Manufacturers’ Championship win in succession for Kawasaki.

WSBK: rampant Rea secures fourth consecutive title with a double at Magny Cours

Jonathan Rea has secured his fourth WSBK title after a dominant performance at Magny Cours.

Rea’s victory in Race One was enough to land him the title, and he celebrated his fourth consecutive world crown by donning a celebratory golden helmet and fairing panels for Sunday’s race.

Rea looked imperious as he fought through the field from ninth on the grid, eventually taking the lead on Lap 12 on his way to yet another double race win, his fourth double in succession. Sunday’s race victory was the 68th of his WSBK career and sees him set another stand-alone record of 131 podiums, one more than Troy Corser.

Speaking after Race Two on Sunday, Rea said: “I was able to go out and do my job today a little bit different today. Coming from the third row I could not find my rhythm straight away because I was in traffic. Just by watching how the other bikes were behaving I had to think outside of the box a few times. But once I got clear track I was able to make a few solid lap times and then ride to my pit-board until the end.

“I just made some smart decision on the first lap and found myself behind van der Mark and Davies. From there I stayed quiet and then I started making my challenge on van der Mark, which was quite difficult. I had a lot more pace than him but he was not giving in easy. He was riding like every lap was the last lap. I picked my place and then set-off after Davies. It was not easy to pass him, but the final gearing we had in today was really perfect. To go 1-1 this weekend, with the world championship, it is the perfect weekend. I will remember this forever.”


WSBK: double joy for Rea at Portimao


A double Portimao race win for Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea saw him extend his championship lead/ The track is a happy hunting ground for the Ulsterman; since he joined Kawasaki in 2015 he has won six Portuguese races in a row and seven in a row at Portimao overall.

After his dominant race victory on Saturday Rea had to start race two from ninth position, which made Sunday’s race a more combative affair in the early laps. Ducati’s Chaz Davies led for the first 11 laps across the line, with Tom Sykes and then Rea challenging behind on the Kawasakis. However, Rea pounced on Lap 12, taking the leading and building a gap as the podium order changed behind him. Michael van der Mark eventually finished second, Marco Melandri third.

Jonathan Rea said: “The run right now is incredible. It was a really tough race, as I had to fight a lot in the beginning. I made a very good start and had good track position early on. At turn five an opportunity opened up behind two riders and I found myself right behind Tom. He proved very hard to pass. I made a pass stick in T13, and chased Chaz down within a lap. Then it took me so many laps to go past him because he was braking so late, and his bike was so fast in the straight. Once I got past I just concentrated on making a couple of clean laps and setting my rhythm.

“The pace today was a little bit slower because the temperature had risen a bit and also I used the tyre a little bit more coming through the pack. I put everything into the race and managed to get 25 points, so I am really happy.”

The win was Rea’s 12th race victory so far in 2018  and extended his all time winning record in WSBK to 66. He has earned full points for six races in succession recently, scoring doubles at Laguna Seca, Misano and now Portimao.

In the championship Rea now has 420 points, Davies 304 and van der Mark 284, with three rounds and six races remaining. Rea will have his first opportunity to close out the championship at the following round in France, if results go his way.

The next round, the 11th of the 13 round championship, takes place at Magny Cours in France, between the 29th and 31st of September.

WSBK – rampant Rea does double at Laguna Seca


Jonny Rea claimed a double win at laguna Seca, one again showing the rest of the field that he his the benchmark by which all other riders are judged.

After qualifying third fastest in Superpole on Saturday morning, Rea spent the early laps right behind eventual race one second place rider Chaz Davies on the factory Ducati, before pouncing to lead on lap seven; Davies ran wide at the entrance to the famous Corkscrew chicane and Rea instantly took his opportunity on the inside line.

Rea built his lead from then on to ease out to an eventual clear advantage of 2.978 seconds after 25 intense laps, on a tricky track surface that rose to over 50°C under the hottest conditions of the weekend so far.

Speaking after the race, Rea said: “In the early laps I felt good behind Chaz, although his pace was really fast. I knew as soon as he made that mistake I wanted to go through, set my rhythm, and tenth-by-tenth slowly build up a lead.

“It was not easy, much more difficult than I expected. The front grip was dropping quite a lot at the end so I just had to ride accordingly. We have not had that issue all weekend but the temperature change today, that extra ten degrees on the track, was massive. We learned some things from the race today to be a little bit stronger tomorrow.”

Race Two saw Rea start from the third row, under the reverse grid rules for race two at each event.

Rea had got up to fifth on lap one and then into the lead by lap eight at the intense 3.610km long hillside circuit. He went unchallenged to claim his eighth victory of the season, giving him a 50% winning record for the season so far. It was also the Ulsterman’s 25 career WorldSBK podiums today.

In winning for a fourth time in his career at Laguna Seca, Rea extended his championship lead to 75 points over runner-up in race two, Chaz Davies.

Rea, said: “An incredible weekend. I expected to be strong here but I had no idea how strong. Two weekends in a row now, Brno and here, we have been the reference. Weekends like that do not happen all the time so we have to really absorb it and enjoy the moment. A double win at Laguna in the sunshine – it does not get much better.

“I am so so so happy, to have a weekend like we’ve had – to be so strong. It doesn’t happen every weekend, this weekend – aside from my tip off on Friday – its been plain sailing. I was able to make my passes, make them stick and go away.

“Laverty had a really good pace and was a really good marker. I was in no urgency to arrive and then step by step I got there, and then made my rhythm. It was awesome to see my rhythm increasing, and then just five or six laps to go I was absorbing the feeling in Laguna Seca in the sunshine I just felt so blessed to be here and it’s a cool moment.”

WSBK – Rea extends Kawasaki contract


The first piece of the 2019 WSBK rider jigsaw has fallen into place after Kawasaki’s Jonny Rea announced he will spend another two years riding for the Japanese manufacturer.

Rea’s extension with Kawasaki comes after week’s of speculation that the Ulsterman was set to turn his back on the factory outfit for a ride with Suzuki in MotoGP or by switching allegiance within the WSBK series and signing for Ducati.

Choosing to stay at Kawasaki, Rea looks set to dominate the series for the immediate future on board the all-conquering ZX-10RR.

Rea said: “I am more than happy to continue in these next two seasons with the Kawasaki Racing Team. Since the end of last season we have already started to talk about continuing our partnership, so it’s nice to finalize everything now, so that we can concentrate on the remaining races of 2018.

“From the moment I arrived at the end of 2014, I was welcomed into the Kawasaki family and since then we have achieved success beyond our wildest dreams. Here is where I want to stay. Of course, it feels natural to keep writing this incredible story together, and I want to thank everyone in the Kawasaki Racing Team for believing in me and for this opportunity.”

“Together we will work harder than ever to keep the ZX-10RR at the front of WSBK in the future. I have the best team of people around me to ensure that we can continue fighting for the World Championship.”

The singing will trigger intense activity among the rest of the field and the question is now is where Rea’s rivals will land for 2019 – with rumors still circling about the futures of Chaz Davies and Tom Sykes, and the bikes they could possibly be riding next season.

The future of Sykes at Kawasaki seems perilous; Sykes and Rea have clashed ever since Rea joined the team, and their recent clash in Brno has brought things to a head.

Sykes has been linked to several rides in the WSBK paddock, especially Yamaha, and it is widely believed he will replace Van Der Mark within the team.

Sykes is expected to announce his plans imminently, and this will then trigger a flurry of moves.

WSBK – Rea shines in Italy as he takes Race Two victory at Imola


In taking his first double race win of the season at Imola Jonny Rea made WSBK history by equalling the all-time record of 59 career race wins.

The Ulsterman now shares that honour with WSBK royalty Carl Fogarty.

After a masterful race one win for Rea from pole position on Saturday, Sunday’s 19-lap race delivered a victory of a different kind. Starting from ninth, and not getting away as cleanly, Rea had to put in several passes before getting into the slipstream of early leader Chaz Davies.

Rea was in second place after four laps, and sat behind Davies for much of the race before deciding to make a final pass into the Variante Alta, on Lap 13.

Rea then put in two blistering laps with a clear track ahead of him and eventually won by a margin of 4.019 seconds.

He has now won half for the races in 2018, but this is the first time has been able to win the second race of any weekend, rather than the first.

He now has the chance to become the stand-alone record holder for race wins at the next round, at his home circuit of Donington.

Rea said: “We got it done and it was probably the best race win of the season. Coming from ninth on the grid, it was so difficult. I was not so confident I could win today. In fact, it was Fabien Foret, who kept talking me round.

“I think I was over-thinking the first lap a lot – and my track position – coming from the outside of row three. I lost places in the first corner but eventually I was able to stick in some passes.

“I wasted no time so when I arrived with Chaz I was able to relax a little bit behind him and understand where I could pass him. I tried two or three times, but he was determined to come back. The final time I made it through, into the Variante Alta, it was time to put my head down, set two clean laps and make a gap.

“It was really nice to equal the record total of race wins, and with a long season left I feel confident that I can extend my win tally, and that is super-nice.”

WSBK – flawless Rea takes Race One victory at Imola


It was a good day at Imola for Kawasaki as riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes scored first and second places respectively in race one at the fifth round of the WSBK Championship in Italy.

In warm and sticky conditions Rea started the first 19-lap race of the WSBK race weekend from pole position, having secured his 16th career Superpole just a couple of hours before the 1pm race start.

The Ulsterman led from flag-to-flag with only his own team-mate Sykes for company in the first few laps, before Rea’s pace took him to an eventual margin of victory of 3.755 seconds. His latest win was his fourth of the season, all of them coming at different circuits.

Rea’s fourth success of the year was the 58th of his career and takes him to within one victory of sharing the all-time record for WorldSBK race wins with Carl Fogarty.

Rea said: “Going to the front from the start was my only plan today. My pace has been a little bit extra all weekend so the best thing for me to was to set my own rhythm and not get involved in anyone else’s race.

“There was a five lap plan to make a small gap but I had more than one second of advantage, so I was happy to ride to my own pit-board after that. When the gap was stagnant I could make a small effort, without taking many risks, because the temperature came up quite a lot today. The bike behaved differently because of this, so I was just trying to understand all the limits of the bike through the race and bring it home. It felt like a long race but I had a good solid rhythm, and that was enough.”