WSBK

WSBK – Rea extends Kawasaki contract

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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.

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

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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

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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.”

WSBK – double delight for Kawasaki for Race Two at Assen

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Assen proved to be a happy hunting ground for Kawasaki as Tom Sykes and Jonny Rea secured a Team Green 1-2.

The Race Two victory was the first win for Sykes since Misano in 2017 in emphatic fashion, while championship leader Rea finished a strong second today, despite launching from the third row of the grid after winning the first Assen race on Saturday.

Sykes, who stated on pole, looked unbeatable on Sunday, running clear of his early rivals and maintaining a remarkably consistent high pace throughout.

Rea found the going tougher – the three-time champions was fourth after Lap One, then third after four laps, before taking second place on Lap Six.

By that stage Sykes had already opened up a gap of 3.5 seconds, which grew as Rea had to defend his position.

Maintaining his own high pace, Rea had to fight off the keen attentions of eventual third place finisher Michael van der Mark in the middle of the 21-lap race.

However, Rea reasserted himself to cross the line 5.445 seconds behind Sykes while keeping van der Marks Yamaha two seconds behind him.

Tom Sykes said: “The Ninja ZX-10RR today was great on a clear track. I was disappointed with Race One, for a number a reasons.

“But what can I say about the win today? I have not had an easy time in the last 18 months or so, but the good thing is that Marcel is not just my crew chief, but also such an amazing friend. He has helped me and gently reminded me of where we have come from in the past, and how we got to where we are now. I knew that the results have not justified the efforts we have put in until now. I also knew last night that a little bit of magic and the Sykes’ spark was there. I think there is no doubt in my speed and today we converted that into all 21 laps. I am very, very happy for this and it was quite emotional to win today.”

Rea was less pleased with his performance. He said: “My track position did not help in the beginning. I wasted a lot of tyre life and energy coming from ninth.

“When I had free track I could see that the gap remained constant. I also ran into some issues with vibration, backing in and the bike becoming a bit unstable. I managed my own race then and totally accepted that today was not going to be my day.

“Tom was stronger but my race was compromised by my ninth place start. You cannot give a guy like Tom pole position after his pace yesterday. Kudos to him and his team they did a great job, and I can take my points and march on to Imola. I have a 30-point lead. It was target achieved at this round and I am feeling better with the bike each week.”

WSBK – Davies takes Race Two win at Aragon

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After finishing on the podium with a second place in Race One, Chaz Davies took a stunning win in Race Two at Aragon.

Starting from third row, Davies bided his time early on, then took the lead with five laps to go and never looked back.

Kawasaki’s Jonny Rea pushed Davies all the way, running wide into the entry of the chicane at turn 12 and losing his chance to attack Davies on the long final corner. Rea was just 1.184 seconds back at the flag, for his fourth podium finish of the 2018 season.

Davies took the 7th win of his career at Aragon and second of the season.

Davies said: “I had to really work hard for this win, coming from 8th place on the grid. I knew we could pull through, but in the first few laps I didn’t have the feeling I was hoping for.

“We opted for a softer rear tire and I was expecting to have more stability, but the rear kept spinning a bit so I stayed patient without trying to force my way through. Then, I made some passes and found myself in a good position to ride my own race.

“I’m really, really happy to have sealed my seventh win here at Aragon. Thanks to the whole team and Ducati. I can’t wait to race again next weekend in Assen.”

Adding to an already memorable Sunday, rookie Michael Ruben Rinaldi finished in seventh position, first among the independent riders, with the Aruba Racing – Junior Team.

WSBK – Rea wins scintillating Race One at Aragon

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Kawasaki’s Jonny Rea had mixed feelings about his bike throughout Friday and the Saturday Superpole, but in Race One of the third WSBK round of the season he put to bed any worries he or his team may have had with a dominant performance at MotorLand Aragon.

The reigning champion increases his lead to 14 points now, after Ducati’s Marco Melandri could only come in fourth.

The race was red flagged after three laps, after a horrible collision involving Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda), Jordi Torres (MV Agusta) and Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia). The Honda rider appeared to slip on Turn 10, with the other two riders just behind and unable to avoid contact. The Brit was immediately taken to the medical centre for evaluation, while Torres and Savadori exited the track on their own feet, although the Spaniard could not make the restart in time.

Before the incident, a wild start had completely turned over the starting grid for Race One. Poleman Marco Melandri moved down to fifth in Lap 1, with Rea taking the lead ahead of Yamaha’s Alex Lowes, up from fifth.

Behind them, Ducati’s Chaz Davies had made an extraordinary start, coming through from 11th to 4th in just one lap, and beating Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes on the next lap to move into provisional podium positions.

After the restart, it was Rea again at the top, leading the first half of the new race bar one lap from Lowes. The champion later found himself under pressure from Xavi Fores on the Barni Racing Ducati, who made his move over the Northern Irishman with just nine laps to go, taking the lead in front of his home fans. But, ultimately, Rea found his moment a couple of laps later, racing away from the Spaniard and taking his second win of the season.

The final laps displayed an extraordinary three-way Ducati fight for the podium, between Fores, Melandri, and Davies, up the field again. With Melandri going wide with two laps to go, it was a fantastic race to the finish between Davies and Fores, exchanging places throughout the final lap and with the Welshman just squeezing ahead at the checkered flag.

Behind them, Yamaha’s Michael van der Mark came in fifth, leaving him in a promising position for Race Two.

The British pair of Sykes and Lowes followed in sixth and seventh, with Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba Racing – Junior Team) taking a good eighth position on his WSBK debut.

At the back, a thrilling battle emerged for ninth, and thus a privileged starting position in tomorrow’s Race Two. At the end, it was Toprak Razgatlioglu on the Puccetti Racing Kawasaki who came in ahead of the pack, with three more riders less than a second away.

After the race Rea, stated: “These track conditions suited us perfectly today. The tyres worked well in these weather conditions. I managed to find a good rhythm and I was confident, especially at the end of the race, when I knew we would be strong. I saw this race as our chance from the start. I thought that all the cards were on our side, so I just tried to be clean. I made a couple of little mistakes, and when Xavi Fores came past me it more about trying to understand where he was strong, and then improve. Mid corner, I feel like our bike is a little bit stronger. So all that first section of the track, where it is more flowing, I felt really strong. I am enjoying riding the bike.”

WSBK – Laverty breaks pelvis in horror crash in Thailand

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Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty has had a lucky escape after being run over by Jordi Torres during Lap 5 of Race Two from Thailand.

The Irishman sustained a broken pubic ramus in the racing incident. He was taken to Buriram Hospital where scans have revealed a small pelvis fracture which is not weight-bearing when standing.The news means the rider does not require surgery.

Speaking about the incident, Mv Agusta’s Torres said: “On turn six, I saw Eugene crash and unfortunately, instead of sliding to the outside, the bike came back on the track and I found Laverty right on my line. I was unable to do anything to avoid him, since he was just a few centimetres away.”

Laverty is expected to return to action soon, but he is likely to miss the next WSBK round at Aragon on April 14-15.

WSBK – Davies takes first 2018 win at Thailand

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Welshman Chaz Davies took his first win of the season – his first victory at the Chang International Circuit – in Race Two from Thailand after charging through the field to take the lead on lap eight.

Davies said: ”It was a fantastic race, something special. To come away with a win here makes me so happy. At Buriram we’ve always struggled in the past, it’s been a long process to get into a race winning position. I want to thank the whole team because they’ve given me such a great bike today. The Panigale R was working really well, we found a little bit more consistency and I could be more adaptable with the bike. It was quite hectic out there but, if you can get through it OK, it’s so much fun. Our package is competitive and in Europe it will be like starting from zero. I’m looking forward to Aragon.”

Yamaha riders Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes finished second and third respectively, with reigning champion Jonathan Rea finishing outside the rostrum places in Thailand for the first time since the event was added to the calendar in 2015, coming home almost three seconds behind Lowes in fourth.

Rea, who claimed his maiden win of the season in Race One, has now taken over the lead of the championship by two points from Phillip Island double winner Marco Melandri, who followed up his eighth place on Saturday with a seventh place finish in race two. Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Ducati) and Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda) rounded out the top six.

WSBK – Rea takes first race win of the season in Thailand

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Jonathan Rea has slashed Marco Melandri’s advantage in the World Superbike Championship to two points after claiming his maiden victory of 2018 in race one in Thailand on Saturday.

Rea controlled the race after securing pole position ahead of his Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes, and while Sykes was first over the line in the first two laps, Rea quickly took the lead.

Controlling the race from the front, Rea won by 1.550 seconds – his 40th race win in WSBK for Kawasaki, and the first since new regulations came in to limit Kawasaki to a lower maximum rev ceiling than any of their four-cylinder rivals. The win cements his unprecedented record at the Chang International Circuit, where he has won six of the seven races held since 2015.

The Ulsterman said: “I tried to manage the gap and I didn’t want to make any mistakes because the pace was really hot.

“It feels amazing to win and we have worked really hard with the bike all weekend towards the end goal and we did, so I’m happy.”

Xavi Fores finished as the runner-up on satellite Barni Ducati, 1.5 seconds behind Rea, while Ducati factory rider Chaz Davies edged out Red Bull Honda’s Leon Camier in a scintillating scrap to snatch the final place on the rostrum.

Alex Lowes on the Yamaha and Sykes completed the top six.

WSBK – double joy for Melandri at season opener at Phillip Island

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The Ducati WSBK factory team enjoyed a memorable first round performance at Phillip Island as Marco Melandri took two extraordinary race victories.

Race One saw Melandri fight with the leading group of Rea and Sykes before the Italian closed the gap from Sykes at the top, eventually taking the lead with five laps to go and defending his position until the checkered flag.

His team-mate Chaz Davies also enjoyed a strong race, coming back from sixth to third position in the second half of the race to take a deserved podium.

Race Two was shaped by a mandatory tyre change, a decision taken by Race Direction for safety reasons, which prompted the riders to pit-in from lap 10 to 12.

At the end of lap 11, Melandri enjoyed a near perfect pit-stop and rejoined the race in second position, behind team-name Davies. While trying to build a gap at the front, however, the Welshman crashed out, leaving Melandri to fight it out with Rea for the win. The duel went down to the wire and was decided by just 0.021 seconds, with Melandri taking the photo finish.

The win was Melandri’s 22nd win in WSBK, making him the most successful Italian in the production-based series.

Melandri said: “Race One was fantastic. Sykes got off to a strong start and it wasn’t easy to follow him and Rea early on. As the race went on, I managed to cut the gap. Once in the lead, it wasn’t easy anyway because the wind gusts were even stronger. The last lap seemed to last forever, but we hung on and brought home the victory.

“Race Two was a crazy race. The tire change made it impossible to come up with a strategy, as many riders could be fast for 10 laps. It was a big fight, with many aggressive moves. We still tried to look after the tyres after the pit-stop, and in the last five laps we found our rhythm. Towards the end, it was difficult to pass Rea under braking so I decided to focus on the final sprint and catch the slipstream out of the last corner, in which we were particularly fast, and the plan worked.”