Rain master Jonathan Rea increases World Superbikes series lead in Germany
World champion Jonathan Rea and his Kawasaki Racing Team redeemed themselves with a race two victory yesterday at the Lausitzring in Germany in treacherous conditions.
The win extends the 29-year-old's championship lead to 47 points with just three rounds and six races remaining, but it was anything but a trouble free meeting for Rea.
The Isle of Man based Ulsterman uncharacteristically crashed out of race one on Saturday, when a gearbox problem ended his race somewhat prematurely in the gravel trap.
With his KRT team-mate Tom Sykes taking second place behind race one winner Chaz Davies on the aruba.it Ducati - reducing the championship lead to just 26 points - Sykes would have been forgiven for feeling a glimmer of hope of pushing this year's championship right to the wire.
Sunday's rain turned a delayed race two into a war of attrition and when all was said and done Rea took his ninth win of the year in the reduced 16-lap encounter by a convincing 10- second margin.
"It feels like this is probably the most important win of my career so far," a delighted Rea said.
"I felt that after yesterday and Laguna our backs were against the wall," he added, referring to back-to-back non-finishes caused by mechanical problems.
Recounting yesterday's build up to the race and the torrential downpour, he said: "In morning warm-up I began to feel good with the bike again after we had made some positive set-up changes. Then when we saw the rain coming on the grid we had to completely change to a wet set-up. It was one of those positions that with me leading the championship I had a lot to lose, but also a lot to gain as well."
Sykes did get the holeshot in race two, but crashed before the end of the lap leaving Rea to make a charge at the head of the field and, once in front, the Ulsterman increased his advantage throughout to take, what might prove, to be the most important win of his year to date.
"Yes I took my chance and put my head down from the start," said Rea, who also praised his team for a big effort. "I really felt good with the bike in the wet, so I have to thank all my crew because on Saturday night my bike was not in great shape. They worked really late, and meticulously, to make sure the bike was perfect. To reward them with this result makes me really happy."
The wet conditions levelled the playing field, allowing a few of the lower rung riders an opportunity to make a concerted effort for a top result.
Sykes did remount to finish in 12th place and salvage four points, but it was Alex de Angelis on the Ioda Aprilia who made the most of the conditions to finish second behind Rea, with Xavi Fores on the Barni Racing Ducati third.
Chaz Davies, third placed man in the championship standings, also lost ground to Rea after finishing sixth behind MV Agusta mounted Leon Camier and former WSB champion Sylvain Guintoli on the Pata Yamaha.
The next round is at Magny Cours in France on October 1-2.