WSBK

WSBK: HRC team unveils 2020 livery

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With less than a week until the first round of the WSBK season begins, Team HRC has unwrapped its 2020 World Superbike livery at its team launch in Tokyo, Japan.

Factory team riders Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam, both new to the team this year,  revealed the colour scheme, which is similar to the 2019 team’s livery in the classic HRC colours of red, white and blue.

Haslam said: “To be a part of this project is a dream come true. To be here in Tokyo, the effort HRC is putting in [to the] brand new Fireblade, I’ve been smiling from the very first laps I did and I cannot wait to start in Australia next week. We got to see the bike for the first time and we were both just smiling and laughing. The excitement of this whole project, the look of the bike, you can see for yourself it´s amazing.”

New kit: Arai launches RX-7V Rea – Gold Edition

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In 2019 WSBK rider Jonathan Rea clinched his fifth consecutive world championship title, and to celebrate his championship Arai is launching a special gold champions RX-7V designed by Aldo Drudi.

The replica of his 2019 champions helmet, Arai’s first ever replica of a champions helmet, features a large number 5 on top and a ‘5 in a row’ star on the rear. Adding to the uniqueness of this design is that it’s the first time replica of a champions helmet.

Rea said:  “I have been with Arai for so many years and I have had some major crashes in my racing career but my Arai helmet always kept me safe. I’m so happy how it turned out and it’s looks great on the bike. Thanks to Arai for making it happen and I hope my fans will love it.”

Rea will not be wearing this design during races, but he will be wearing it on several occasions like testing, practice and qualifying throughout the season.

The RX-7V Rea – Gold Edition, is available from May 2020 at selected Arai dealers.

WSBK: Rea reigns supreme in wet Jerez pre-seaon test

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Factory Kaswasaki rider Jonathan Rea has ended the two-day Jerez test on top of the timesheets despite completing just 19 laps in the sessions.

The five-time champion chose to avoid the rainy conditions on the opening day and had left the test only to return on day two as the track dried out, posting a 1:40.983 lap before the rain started to fall again.

His time was 0.231 seconds quicker than his nearest rival, new Yamaha factory rider Toprak Razgatlioglu. Ducati factory rider Scott Redding was 0.424 seconds off the pace set by Rea in third, while Kawasaki’s Alex Lowes finished the day in fourth spot. Michael van der Mark completed the top five on the second factory Yamaha.

WSBK: van der Mark on top of first day of testing in Jerez

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The 2020 WSBK championship has fired back into action as the first of two testing days at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto got underway in the south of Spain.

The day was wet and temperatures were far from ideal. Two red flags interrupted running, although there was plenty of action to also brighten up a damp day, with Yamaha’s Michael van der Mark ending the day on top.

Sylvain Barrier was the first rider out on the Brixx Performance Ducati with the Frenchman keen to dial in plenty of laps on his return to the series, and he was swiftly joined by fellow independent Ducati star Leandro Mercado on the Motocorsa Racing machine, who returns to the Italian manufacturer after three seasons away.

Then at just after 12.00, the HRC Team of Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam made their first public appearance, and they were joined on track by the Pata Yamaha duo, with Michael van der Mark firing in the top time just before 14:00, toppling fellow Yamaha rider Loris Baz. With a soaked circuit, Pata Yamaha team-mate Toprak Razgatlioglu crashed at Turn 1, having only completed one lap, but returned to the track about 40 minutes after his accident; he was seventh at lunch.

French star Loris Baz picked up where he left off at the last Jerez test – when he was second – and briefly headed the field as the morning evolved. He was a firm fixture inside the top three and was top Yamaha for most of the morning and early afternoon, eventually finishing in second. It is a strong start to the 2020 season for Baz, as he seeks his first WSBK podium in six years. Other Independent riders inside the top ten include Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) in third – much to the surprise of many – and Leandro Mercado in sixth.

Over at the factory Ducati team, there were plenty of new things to experiment out on track, as Scott Redding received new parts for the chassis and engine. Redding finished the first half of the day in fourth, taking the fight to the Yamaha onslaught.

The HRC Team was also having a positive first experience in the public eye, as Leon Haslam momentarily hit the top spot with the all-new Fireblade. Teammate Alvaro Bautista also went out and was inside the top five, before suffering a small crash at Turn 6. Come the end of the first half of the day, Haslam was up to fifth place, whilst Bautista was 19th and elected not to return to the track.

The Kawasaki Racing Team elected not to field Jonathan Rea in the wet weather as he already knows the bike well enough, while Alex Lowes did take to the circuit in the afternoon and was ninth.

WSBK: Rea finishes season with hat-trick of wins at Losail, Qatar

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Five-time WSBK champion Jonathan Rea added to his Race One win on Friday with Superpole and Race Two wins at the Losail International Circuit, ending a remarkable season with 17 victories in all and a points total well into the 600s.

In the last round of a truly memorable season, Rea took his run of career race wins to 88, by securing all three race victories under the floodlights in Qatar. In the short Tissot-Superpole sprint race Rea led every lap and beat Alvaro Bautista by 2.027 seconds. In the 17-lap season finale he had pressure from two Ducati riders behind him but used his strong overall race package to push on in the final laps and take a winning margin of almost three seconds.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “Seventeen race wins this year and two triples – Donington and here – so this is special, super-special. I am really happy and content because to be honest we never expected to get beaten so bad in the beginning. Even in the middle of the season we knew we needed to enter these last two rounds with a gap in the championship to fight for it, but what we expected we didn’t find. I am really happy with the package of our bike because in these last two races, with the longest straights in the championship, and the fastest circuits, we have proved that you need more than a fast engine to win. I am super-proud of all my team. This weekend we changed the base set-up so many times, from Race One to Superpole to Race Two; you would not believe me if I told you what we did. We turned the bike upside down and each and every time we had some positives and negatives, so it just shows our bike is working inside a good window.”

Rea’s historic fifth successive championship win was thus ended in a perfect way, especially after he started from pole position each time and Kawasaki won the Manufacturers’ Championship after Race One. He ended his year – which featured three races per weekend for the first time in WSBK – with 663 championship points, 165 more than his closest competitor.

WSBK: Rea wins fifth consecutive world title after Race Two victory at Magny Cours

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Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea secured a fifth straight World Superbike title with two rounds to spare after taking victory in Race Two at Magny-Cours; the Northern Irishman, 32, becomes the first rider to win five World Superbikes titles.

His nearest title rival, Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista, exited early in Race Two after being taken out by Turkish Puccetti Racing’s Toprak Razgatlioglu.

Turkey’s Razgatlioglu beat Rea in Sunday morning’s Sprint Race which was same one-two as Saturday’s Race One.

That meant victory for the Kawasaki rider in Race Two was guaranteed to land him the title if Spaniard Bautista finished outside the top 11.

Bautista looked set to challenge strongly in Race Two before Razgatlioglu’s mistake on lap two led to both riders exiting which left Rea in second spot just behind Dutchman Michael van der Mark on the factory Yamaha.

Rea and Van der Mark then swapped the lead before the Northern Irishman moved ahead on lap 11.

The defending champion gradually edged clear of the Dutchman to secure the victory that ensured his five-in-a-row.

Rea said: “I am just super-happy. It has been the biggest challenge to date and we have just chipped away. The beginning of the season was really tough, to be beaten the way we were. But to mentally accept the challenge and keep working as a team – also away from the track – we kept strong. I have worked and kept working. We all go to each weekend looking for the opportunity and we have had lots of opportunities this year, and won a lot of races. It is beyond my wildest dreams to win the title here because after four rounds I would have bitten your hand off if you told me I was going to be champion.

“With yesterday’s race being quite chaotic I was nervous going into today because I did not understand the points situation. The target all weekend was to try and – realistically – win it in Argentina, so we could go to Qatar with less pressure. But we got another opportunity today and I felt a little bit better with the bike compared to yesterday. With the temperature going up the pace was not so fast I was able to manage the bike, and I could see my opportunity with Michael. He was struggling in some areas where we were strong. And we were weaker in some areas where he was strong. So I was putting that all together, learning that for a few laps and then putting my head down and getting the job done.

“Massive thanks to Kawasaki, the team, my sponsors, my family, all my friends and everybody in my corner. I am the guy taking the plaudits but it is such a big team effort and I am fortunate to be in this position.”

 

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.

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.

WSBK: Rea dominates Superpole race at Imola

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The first and only race at at Imola on Sunday was the Tissot Superpole Race, which provided fireworks once more. On a damp but drying circuit, there was drama before the race even started, as BMW’s Tom Sykes  missed the warm up lap and was forced to start from pit lane.

At the front, Ducati’s Chaz Davies got the jump from pole, while Race One winner Jonathan Rea went side-by-side with the Welshman, but the Ducati held firm and maintained the lead.

With the race settling down, a mistake from Davies at the final chicane allowed Rea and Alvaro Bautista on the other factory Ducati to get ahead of him. Davies now had to put in the hard work all over again, as reigning champion Rea began to pull out an advantage.

Davies soon despatched his team-mate and the two dominant forces of WSBK in the past four seasons – Rea and Davies – went head-to-head in terms of lap times, both on lap record pace. The gap momentarily came down to below a second, but Davies was unable to get on terms with Jonathan Rea, while Bautista rode answerless in third position.

Rea’s victory never looked in doubt and he powered to his first Tissot Superpole Race win. Davies and Bautista came home behind him, while Michael van der Mark took his best Imola result with a strong fourth. Team-mate Alex Lowes finished fifth, with Kawasaki’s Leon Haslam placed in sixth.

WSBK: Rampant Rea returns to winning ways in Race One at Imola

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It was a welcome return to the top step of the podium for Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea, who put in a riding masterclass to take victory in Race One.

The Ulsterman enjoyed a bright start, but couldn’t get the better of Ducati’s Chaz Davies down into Tamburello. However, on the run to Acque Minerale, Davies suffered a problem and was forced to retire, handing Rea the lead while Davies’ team-mate Bautista moved up to second.

At the end of the opening lap, Rea and Bautista had the leading positions, with BMW’s Tom Sykes in third and ahead of Yamaha’s Michael van der Mark.

As the race settled down, Rea built a comfortable lead and was extending his advantage over Bautista by around 0.7s per lap. Bautista in turn was escaping the attention of Sykes but the main battle through the race was for fourth, with van der Mark leading Alex Lowes.

However, Lowes began to slip back, having been ill all weekend, and then Sykes suffered another mechanical issue, robbing the 2013 WorldSBK champ of a certain podium.

Sykes’ demise promoted a huge battle between van der Mark and Toprak Razgatlioglu for the final podium position. The Turkish star made his move in the closing stages and got ahead of van der Mark. The pair then swapped paint and traded blows on the penultimate lap, colliding twice and fighting down to the wire.

Meanwhile, in a league of his own, Jonathan Rea blitzed the opposition in vintage fashion, taking his first win of the season to end the run of victories by Alvaro Bautista.

It is Jonathan Rea’s eighth win at Imola and his 72nd career victory in WSBK, ending his longest winless run since 2013. It is the 128th win for Kawasaki in WSBK.