Title dream is coming alive with Rea double
Ballyclare's' Jonathan Rea is the new leader of the World Superbike Championship after taking both race wins for his Pata Honda squad at the famous Imola circuit in Bologna, Italy yesterday.
A delighted Rea said afterwards: "It's been a great weekend for me. I couldn't have imagined doubling up coming here, but I knew we'd be strong because it's a circuit I really enjoy and one that the bike goes really well at."
Thinking of the cold beer that will have to wait, Rea smiled: "It's a shame we have a test tomorrow, because I think everyone in the team deserves to go and really enjoy the night and savour this moment but it's back to work tomorrow."
The in-form Ulsterman, who now resides on the Isle of Man with his Australian wife Tatia and baby son Jake, was told back in 2004 that he would never race again after breaking his femur in an accident at Knockhill in Scotland.
A decade later, the 27-year-old is on top of the world and very much a real live contender, to finally fulfill his dream of becoming a world champion with Honda this season.
Following three wins on the spin at Assen and now Imola, Rea will take a slender four-point championship lead over Kawasaki's Tom Sykes into the British round at Donington Park on May 25.
The opening World Superbike podium at Imola was an all British affair. Pole position man Rea romped to victory by 4.5-seconds on his Pata Honda, from Welshman Chaz Davies, who rode superbly to second place on the Panigale Ducati. Current world champion Tom Sykes took third place on the factory Kawasaki ZX10R.
Davies followed Rea home once again in race two; the margin a similar four seconds with Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli out-smarting Kawasaki duo Baz and Sykes to steal in for third.
It was another frustrating weekend for Monaco-based Toomebridge rider Eugene Laverty, who could only manage a brace of top 10 finishes (7th & 9th) on his Voltcom Crescent Suzuki.
Lapping at over a second a lap slower than Rea's Pata Honda is proof enough that Laverty's Suzuki team has a work to do if they are to add to their only podium finish so far this year during round one in Australia in February.
Dublin's Jack Kennedy will be disappointed after finishing 11th in yesterday's World Supersport encounter at Imola, which was won by Italian Lorenzo Zanetti for Pata Honda.
His team-mate Michael van der Mark took second spot with Frenchman Florian Marino third, just ahead of his Intermoto Ponyexpres Kawasaki team-mate PJ Jacobsen.
American Jacobsen is based in Northern Ireland during the season, having ridden for Moneymore-based Tyco Suzuki last season in British Superbike. Word is that Jacobsen is unsettled in his current role and that he could make a BSB return before the end of the season.
1st Race: 1 Jonathan Rea (Gbr) Honda 34mins 14.829secs, 2 Chaz Davies (Gbr) Ducati 34:19.340, 3 Tom Sykes (Gbr) Kawasaki 34:21.321, 4 Loris Baz (Fra) Kawasaki 34:23.263, 5 Sylvain Guintoli (Fra) Aprilia 34:23.963, 6 Marco Melandri (Ita) Aprilia 34:29.754, 7 Eugene Laverty (Gbr) Suzuki 34:34.802, 8 Alex Lowes (Gbr) Suzuki 34:36.411, 9 Toni Elias (Spa) Aprilia 34:43.610, 10 Leon Haslam (Gbr) Honda 34:46.074
2nd Race: 1 Jonathan Rea (Gbr) Honda 34mins 14.255secs, 2 Chaz Davies (Gbr) Ducati 34:18.350, 3 Sylvain Guintoli (Fra) Aprilia 34:19.801, 4 Loris Baz (Fra) Kawasaki 34:20.540, 5 Tom Sykes (Gbr) Kawasaki 34:21.402, 6 Davide Giugliano (Ita) Ducati 34:36.309, 7 Toni Elias (Spa) Aprilia 34:40.066, 8 Leon Haslam (Gbr) Honda 34:40.382, 9 Eugene Laverty (Gbr) Suzuki 34:40.561, 10 Alex Lowes (Gbr) Suzuki 34:47.301.
Championship Standings: 1 Jonathan Rea (Gbr) Honda 139pts, 2 Tom Sykes (Gbr) Kawasaki 135, 3 Sylvain Guintoli (Fra) Aprilia 123, 4 Loris Baz (Fra) Kawasaki 119, 5 Chaz Davies (Gbr) Ducati 87, 6 Marco Melandri (Ita) Aprilia 84, 7 Davide Giugliano (Ita) Ducati 69, 8 Eugene Laverty (Gbr) Suzuki 62, 9 Leon Haslam (Gbr) Honda 58, 10 Alex Lowes (Gbr) Suzuki 50.
Team: 1 Kawasaki 143pts, 2 Honda 139, 3 Aprilia 133, 4 Ducati 113, 5 Suzuki 92, 6 BMW 26, 7 MV Augusta 5.