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Jonathan Rea at the 2018 WorldSBK Pata Italian round
NEWS

Rea: the greatest SBK racer ever?

May 142018

59. Not a special number for most people but for WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea it is a digit that represents a career zenith of sorts. With his first ‘double’ of 2018 on Sunday at the historic and spectacular circuit of Imola in Italy the Kawasaki man reached the very top of his sport. The 31 year old beat Chaz Davies for his second success of the weekend and thus crested them all in Superbike racing. 59 chequered flags brings the Northern Irishman level with SBK icon Carl Fogarty as the ‘winningest’ of all-time.

“We got it done and it was probably the best race win of the season,” he beamed. “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.

“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,” he added.

 

Rea might also be satisfied with a ‘47’. After a shaky start opener to 2018 where he felt the effects of a virus in Phillip Island and only grasped his first victory at round two in Thailand, the former #65 has now extended his margin at the top of the championship standings to almost fifty points ahead of Davies and with five of thirteen dates scratched from the board.

 

After his blitzing second race performance in Assen last time out, Tom Sykes felt a renewed flow of confidence and played second fiddle to Rea on Saturday and rode ‘around’ front-end set-up insecurities on Sunday to push his way into third spot: a podium double for the weekend and the first time the Englishman popped two champagne corks since Laguna Seca last July.

“It is positive that I am now third in the championship, so we are coming back,” he said. “We had a difficult feeling with the front of the bike today and it was not easy to do what I wanted on the entry to corners. That meant I suffered with rear traction on the exits, so it was difficult for me to manage the race. I kept pushing and I could see the guys in front of me had better overall speed but, strategically, I tried to come back at them and slowly, slowly got there. On a ‘bad’ day I was able to take a podium so I have to be happy for this.”

 

Pleasingly for Sykes (considering his tremendous rate of successive spoils at the circuit) WorldSBK moves onto the curves of Donington Park in England at the end of May.

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