Rea makes seconds count as he stretches world title lead
World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea increased his series lead despite two second place finishes in the Italian round at Imola.
Chaz Davies powered to victory in race two to complete the double in round five, heading Rea's Kawasaki in a repeat of Saturday's first race 1-2.
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati rider took the chequered flag in race one on Saturday and eventually secured back-to-back wins after a restart was needed in race two due to a red flag, resulting in a 40-minute delay to clean up an oil spill.
Following the restart of the race, which was reduced from 20 laps to 18, pole-sitter Tom Sykes stormed into a commanding lead inside the opening two laps with Leon Camier (MV Agusta) behind in second after starting fifth on the grid.
But Camier's race ended one lap later as he crashed out which helped Davies move into second place.
Ballyclare's reigning world champion Rea, who qualified in fourth, made a shaky start after he misjudged a chicane on the opening lap to drop to sixth but soon fought back to move into third as Davies took the lead from Kawasaki Racing rider Sykes with 12 laps remaining.
Davies never relinquished the lead once he was in front, but Rea produced a strong finish to claim second ahead of team-mate Sykes.
Xavi Fores finished fourth with home rider Marco Melandri in fifth. Alex Lowes and Eugene Laverty finished in sixth and seventh respectively. It was a creditable performance by Toome rider Laverty after his crash in Saturday's race left his Milwauke Aprilia in a fireball. Luckily he escaped unhurt to race again yesterday.
Countryman Rea, meanwhile, was happy to take away 40 points from a tough weekend with his two second position finishes in two very different races.
Rea was able to reduce the gap overall to race winner Davies on Sunday.
"Yeah, of course I'm happy, because I don't think I could have been much better than second,"Rea insisted. We halved the gap to Chaz on race one so that's a positive, but unfortunately I made a huge mistake on lap one going through one of the chicanes; I went over the gravel and that lost all my track position, and all my work I'd done on that first out lap.
"We changed the bike between race one and two, so some positives, but all in all to leave Imola with 40 points and increase the championship lead is a good weekend at one of our not so strongest tracks."
Rea's Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes had a stunning start to the race, as he led the way in the opening laps and seemed to be feeling very comfortable on board his ZX-10RR machine. Disappointed to miss out on the win, he knew he didn't have the pace to match the Ducati's. Despite this, the British rider looks forward to the next outing at Donington Park where he has a stunning record.
Race 2 result: 1 Chaz Davies (Gbr) Ducati 32mins 12.361secs, 2 Jonathan Rea (Gbr) Kawasaki 32:16.100, 3 Tom Sykes (Gbr) Kawasaki 32:16.703, 4 Javier Fores (Spa) Ducati 32:26.802, 5 Marco Melandri (Ita) Ducati 32:26.957, 6 Alex Lowes (Gbr) Yamaha 32:44.575, 7 Eugene Laverty (Gbr) Aprilia 32:46.280, 8 Jordi Torres (Spa) BMW 32:48.293, 9 Michael van der Mark (Ned) Honda 32:48.460, 10 Leandro Mercado (Arg) Aprilia 32:49.982
Leading World Championship Standings: Riders: 1 Jonathan Rea (Gbr) Kawasaki 235pts, 2 Chaz Davies (Gbr) Ducati 161, 3 Tom Sykes (Gbr) Kawasaki 160, 4 Marco Melandri (Ita) Ducati 124, 5 Alex Lowes (Gbr) Yamaha 94, 6 Javier Fores (Spa) Ducati 84, 7 Michael van der Mark (Ned) Honda 78, 8 Jordi Torres (Spa) BMW 65, 9 Leon Camier (Gbr) MV Augusta 64, 10 Eugene Laverty (Gbr) Aprilia 55
Manufacturers: 1 Kawasaki 235pts, 2 Ducati 203, 3 Yamaha 106, 4 BMW 73, 5 Aprilia 68, 6 MV Augusta 64, 7 Honda 60