Belfast Telegraph

Champion Rea finally conquers Jerez to land title for team

 

By Roy Harris

Jonathan Rea keeps racking up World Superbike wins after a weekend double at Jerez took his tally of victories for the season to 14 and his career total to 52, equal with Troy Bayliss and just seven behind the all-time record of Carl Fogarty.

Never having won at the Spanish circuit before, the Kawasaki rider had a rub of the green in Saturday's opening race when leader Marco Melandri, seemingly with the win in the bag, was forced to retire with four laps remaining and Rea capitalised, taking the chequered flag over a second ahead of Chaz Davies with Tom Sykes third.

Rea led in the early stages, but was unable to pull away, hounded by the Ducatis of Melandri and Davies. Lap eight saw Melandri and Davies move ahead of Rea, who hit back at Davies on lap 12, but by this time the Italian was over a second ahead.

Rea narrowed the advantage before the Ducati ran into technical problems and Melandri was out, leaving Rea a clear run to the chequered flag.

Rea said: "It's nice to tick the box for a Jerez win."

Eugene Laverty ran wide on second lap from a top six position, dropping him well down the field before recovering to finish a creditable eighth.

Like race one, yesterday's race two was red flagged on the opening lap after a coming together between Laverty and Davies saw both crash into the gravel trap uninjured.

Davies was able to take his place on the grid for the re-start, but Laverty was forced to start from pit lane before eventually retiring

Starting from ninth place on the grid, Rea rode his usual brilliant first lap to momentarily take the lead at the end of the lap with Michael Van Der Mark re-taking the lead at turn one on lap two. But it was short lived, as Rea was quickly back in front and pulled the pin, gradually pulling away from a tough battle for second between Davies, Melandri, Van Der Mark, Sykes and Alex Lowes.

Rea eased to a 2.7 seconds victory and was joined on the podium by Melandri and Davies, the Italian getting the better of his team mate in the closing stages.

Having led Kawasaki to the Manufacturers Championship yesterday, Rea said: "It's not just the bike, the rider, the management or the crew chief, it is everybody in the team and at the factory race department in Japan and I'm so proud to be part of it.

"For the race my crew chief, Pere Riba, asked me to trust him with some front geometry changes and a front tyre change. I just had to steer it round and it was awesome."

Davies is now tied on points with Sykes, who could only manage fifth, with just two races remaining in Qatar in less than a fortnight's time.

A jubilant Rea said afterwards, "It is incredible to win that race so dominantly. We made quite a few changes to the bike and I wasn't sure what rear tyre to pick. The decision in the end worked, as the tyre was still good in the closing stages of the race."

Rea is 143 points ahead at the top of the standings and he has now achieved 110 rostrum finishes in the series, moving one ahead of Fogarty.

The final round of the championship will be staged in Qatar on November 3 and 4.

If Rea can finish the year by winning the remaining two races, he will overhaul American Colin Edwards' record for the number of points accrued in a season.

The Isle of Man-based rider, who crashed in final practice in Jerez, has now also ended his quest for a win at the Spanish circuit where he clinched his first podium places there a year ago when he took third and second-placed finishes.

Rea won race one on Saturday when he assumed the lead with four laps to go after leader Melandri was forced to park up with a mechanical problem.

Belfast Telegraph

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