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Jonathan Rea at the 2018 WorldSBK Argentina round
NEWS

Rea baptises superb new Villicum with more record success as Haslam wins BSB

Oct 142018

The green tidal wave that is still spreading over 2018 WorldSBK stretched all the way to South America for the series’ first ever visit to the continent. Newly-crowned four times world champ Jonathan Rea made another slither of history by not only winning for the ninth and tenth times in a row (the Kawasaki Racing Team rider has now ruled Czech Republic, USA, Italy, Portugal, France and Argentina) but being the very first at the exciting Villicum circuit.

Like many locations in Argentina (especially Rio Termas for MotoGP and Neuquen for MXGP, Cordoba for the Dakar) San Juan was buzzing with fans and atmosphere for the inauguration of the scenic brand new racing facility nearby and the WorldSBK paddock that flew across the world to make the opening laps in anger.

 

Villicum was rough around the edges and still in the process of completion but the twisty and technical layout (with one of the longest start straights on the calendar) and the key parts of the structure were prepped for a sizeable audience and spotlight. Rea owned race one on Saturday, using the throaty torque of the Ninja ZX-10RR, and then defied sickness to cut through from the depths of the top ten (courtesy of the reversed grid for race two) to overtake Xavi Fores and set the fastest lap on his way to another comfortable margin.

“It was a tough day and night and I spent most of it on the toilet!” said an ailing Rea after setting the longest-winning run in WorldSBK history, his 70th career chequered flag: 55 of which for Kawasaki as the brand toasted their fourth manufacturer’s title. “So thanks to the team for sorting me out. We hit the ground running this weekend and the bike was so good on tyres. This is dreamy: ten races on the bounce is not normal and makes the long flight home worthwhile.

 

“To take the manufacturers’ championship with a race win was really nice,” he’d said on Saturday. “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.”

Tom Sykes touched the top five in the second race and Alex Lowes took his Pata Yamaha to sixth position behind his fellow Brit. Over in the UK Kawasaki had more reason to celebrate as Leon Haslam made sure of the 2018 BSB championship at Brands Hatch only a matter of weeks before he switches his attention to WorldSBK and the saddle next to good friend Rea next year. “It’s like a big weight’s been lifted off my shoulders,” the veteran of MotoGP, SBK and BSB said at the culmination of his long chase for the British Superbike #1 plate. “Honestly it was kind-of one of those races I knew I didn’t need to push on, I needed to stay out of trouble. After the last few years, I just wanted to bring it home. That last lap felt like an eternity, it was a long old race! It’s been one of those years, it’s gone so well and I’m so grateful to everyone around me.”

 

After winning his fourth title in a row in France two weeks ago Rea re-inked the stamp on Superbike at the penultimate fixture of 2018. He could round-off another dominant term in which Kawasaki were effectively hamstrung with RPM restrictions (as part of the adjusted rulebook for ’18 in an effort to narrow the SBK field) with more spoils at Losail in two weeks time. Qatar closes the book on WorldSBK once again with the nocturnal dance taking place on October 26-27.

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