Jonathan Rea is prefectly placed and properly equipped to mount a World Superbike title challenge as he showed in coming within a heartbeat of a Race 2 victory early yesterday at Salt Lake City, Utah
Honda-mounted Ballyclare rider Rea was pipped by just 0.195 seconds as Italy’s Marco Melandri took victory to complete the US World Superbike round at Miller Motorsports Park.
Rea had earlier finished fourth in Race 1, won by Ducati’s Carlos Checa, with countryman Eugene Laverty, on his Aprilia, fifth.
Eugene slipped to sixth in an oil-spill delayed Race 2 and is now eighth in the world standings with Rea fourth.
Toomebridge rider Laverty’s Aprilia team-mate Max Biaggi leads the field but Rea insisted: “Nobody’s giving up.
“My team have given me a great bike and I have good confidence now.
“I do not feel like I am riding on the edge, it is quite controlled, and that is a good thing.”
Rea had taken advantage of a mistake by Race 1 winner Checa to lead, but was passed on the final lap by Melandri.
Checa won the opening race by 2.313 seconds ahead of Melandri, Biaggi and Rea.
And the Spanish veteran seemed set to make it a double when he established a 1.7secs lead inside five laps of Race 2.
He crashed out, though, with Melandri taking up the running, until he was passed by Rea on the 11th lap.
Rea was within a whisker of taking the chequered flag, but he was overtaken by Melandri on the last time round, the Italian ultimately winning by 0.195s.
WORLD Superbikes Leading positions after Salt Lake City:
Race 1: 1 Carlos Checa (Spa) Ducati 38mins 21.283secs, 2 Marco Melandri (Ita) BMW 38:23.596, 3 Max Biaggi (Ita) Aprilia 38:26.621, 4 Jonathan Rea (Gbr) Honda 38:26.800, 5 Eugene Laverty (Gbr)
Leading positions Race 2: 1 Melandri (Ita) BMW 32mins 56.257secs, 2 Rea (Gbr) Honda 32:56.452, 3 Biaggi (Ita) Aprilia 32:58.394, 4 Chaz Davies (Gbr) Aprilia 33:00.502, 5 Tom Sykes (Gbr) Kawasaki 33:05.791, 6 Laverty (Gbr)
Rider standings: 1 Max Biaggi (Ita) Aprilia 160.5pts, 2 Marco Melandri (Ita) BMW 142.5, 2 Tom Sykes (Gbr) Kawasaki 142.5, 4 Jonathan Rea (Gbr) Honda 141.0, 5 Carlos Checa (Spa) Ducati 130.5, 6 Leon Haslam (Gbr) BMW 103.0, 7 Sylvain Guintoli (Fra) Ducati 95.0, 8 Eugene Laverty (Gbr) Aprilia 86.0, 9 Davide Giugliano (Ita) Ducati 64.0, 10 Jakub Smrz (Cze) Ducati 61.5
Manufacturers: 1 Ducati 195.5pts, 2 BMW 176.0, 3 Aprilia 171.0, 4 Kawasaki 148.5, 5 Honda 145.0, 6 Suzuki 48.5