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.”