Jonathan Rea is still one to catch despite setback in US
Jonathan Rea remains on course for the World Superbike crown after two third places in the United States round at Laguna Seca in California last night.
In both races he was pipped by Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes and fellow British rider Chaz Davies who made history at Laguna Seca by taking the first double win for his Ducati team and with it wins number 11 and 12 for the Italian manufacturer at the track.
For Davies it was an almost perfect weekend with him taking pole position, both race wins and the fastest lap in race one.
Ballyclare rider Rea, however, still leads to championship table by a distance on 407 points to second placed Sykes' 282 and Davies' 263.
Technically, they were Rea's worst results of the season in the World Superbike Championship.But they have to be looked at in the perspective of 11 wins from 16 starts... a lot of riders would love third to be their worst result.
Once again leading from the start in race two, Davies was closely followed in the early stages by the Kawasaki Racing Team pairing of Sykes and Rea with Leon Haslam (Aprilia Racing Team - Red Devils) running strongly in fourth.
Behind Davies by 1.406s at the flag was Sykes and Rea, the podium in race 2 being a carbon copy of the first encounter.
Aprilia Racing riders Jordi Torres and Leon Haslam were fourth and fifth respectively after a 25 lap duel. They finished comfortably ahead of Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia) who had a lonely ride to 6th after failing to finish race one.
From his second row start in race one, Rea made a lightning break and was on pole setter Davies' Ducati back wheel into turn two. However a slide saw Rea relegated to third exiting turn three, handing second to Sykes.
As Davies eased a second and a half clear, Rea was trying all he knew to put a pass on Sykes as the pair circulated just yards apart throughout the 25-lap race in a tense duel in the sun, pushing each other to the limit.
They almost nearly touched on lap 13 and then Isle of Man based Rea made two efforts to pass his rival, but on both occasions went into the corners carrying too much speed forcing him to run wide, allowing Sykes to speed back into second
Visibly faster than Sykes, Rea was all over the back of his team mate although he could never make that telling pass to take the chase to Davies.
In the end, Davies took a pole position to chequered flag sixth WSB win of his career, 1.798secs clear of Sykes with Rea three tenths further back in third.
A not too downbeat Rea commented afterwards: "It was clear to see that I had a much higher pace than Tom Sykes, but I just could not find a way past him. Honestly, even if I could have got past, Chaz had too much pace for us in that race."
Behind the all-Brit race one podium, Italian Davide Giugliano (Ducati) and Spaniard Jordi Torres (Aprilia) had their own battle for fourth, won in the end by the Ducati rider with Alex Lowes having a good ride to sixth on the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki.
Britain's Leon Haslam (Aprilia) did his chase for second in the championship no good by crashing out of sixth with five laps remaining, although he remounted to finish in 13th.
The next WSB round takes place in Sepang, Malaysia in two weeks.