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.