Second places keep Jonathan Rea right on track for World Superbike crown
Ballyclare's Jonathan Rea extended his lead at the top of the World Superbike Championship standings to 101 points, despite having to play second fiddle to his Kawasaki Racing team-mate Tom Sykes, who won both WSB races at Donington Park yesterday.
Sykes' faultless double made it six World Superbike wins on the spin for the Yorkshire man at the Leicestershire venue since 2013, but Rea's brace of second placed finishes, at a track he will openly admit is not one of his favourites - keeps his title aspirations firmly intact.
Rea did enjoy a bar-bashing opening race with his team-mate, but Sykes was too hot to handle in the closing stages and gapped Rea by almost four seconds, with Welshman Chaz Davies third on the Aruba.it Ducati, 11 seconds down on Rea.
In race two, Rea miraculously saved what looked like being his first crash of the year, after a massive high-side at Coppice on lap two.
But using all his motocross skills and large slice of lady luck, the 28-year-old Manx based Ulsterman held on tight, dug deep and demonstrated his world championship credentials, to fight back from seventh place to finish second.
Despite coming home almost 10 seconds down on Sykes, the Ulsterman seemed satisfied with his weekend's work, which also helped him maintain his record of not finishing lower than second place in the opening 12 races this season.
"I did not accept defeat before the races, but Donington is one of those circuits where if there is one place where my team-mate was going to really excel it was here," said Rea. "I think we had something wrong with the tyre in that second race.
"The first five laps was like riding on ice on that rear tyre and it was almost a big crash. I knew that we could get back to second place because the Kawasaki package is so good.
"The championship points gap is in three figures now, which I cannot believe.
"It is incredible, so we just need to keep doing the same," added the Ulsterman.
Jordanstown's Andy Reid took tenth place in the World Supersport race at Donington Park after being given a wildcard opportunity with the Core Motorsport Honda team.
The race was won by Turkish Kawasaki rider Ken Sofuoglu, with Frenchman Jules Cluzel second (MV Agusta) and 17-year-old Englishman Kyle Ryde, also wildcarding, in third.
Fermanagh's Josh Elliott (Morello Racing) maintained his lead at the top of the Pirelli National Superstock 1000cc Championship after taking second place in a thrilling battle with eventual winner Hudson Kennaugh and Alastair Seeley (third) at Donington Park.
With one win and three second places from the opening four races, young Elliott now leads the series by just three points from South African Kennaugh, with Tyco BMW's Alastair Seeley a further 14 points adrift after his podium.
Closer to home Derek Sheils took a hat-trick of Superbike wins on his BikeBitsNI Kawasaki yesterday at the Adelaide Masters at Mondello Park, with recent North West 200 winner Jeremy McWilliams taking a double in the Classic Superbike races.