Dominant Rea back on top of podium at Imola
Reigning four-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea made a welcome return to the top step of the podium at Imola over the weekend, not once but twice, ending Alvaro Bautista's domination to take his first wins of the season.
Rea was denied the chance of going for a treble when the third race yesterday was abandoned following a deluge of rain.
From second on the grid Rea was in the lead halfway around the opening lap of race one on Saturday, as pole man Chas Davies retired his ARUBA.IT Ducati.
Once ahead the Kawasaki and Rea were majestic, setting a new lap record on lap three and leading all 19 laps to triumph by 7.8 seconds over the previously unbeaten Bautista, who simply had no answer to Rea.
Overnight rain left the track with some damp patches yesterday, but they didn't deter Rea who crossed the finish line 2.1 seconds clear of Davies with Bautista back in third.
Davies led from pole in the 10-lap Superpole race, but a braking error at the final chicane let Rea past and into the lead followed by Bautista.
With four laps left Davies put a pass on his team mate, but didn't have enough left to challenge Rea despite breaking Rea's new lap record on lap seven.
The heavens opened prior to the third and final race and after a lap by Rea, Davies and Bautista in a car with officials two sighting laps were undertaken by the competitors and the grid formed only for officials to call it off on safety grounds with pools of water in some areas of the track.
Rea said: "It was a really positive weekend, to get my feeling with the bike here and be able to get the maximum out of it. To get the two wins here makes me really happy.
"We never stopped believing that this weekend was a perfect opportunity for the chance to win and we had to take it and I did.
"Unfortunately race three was cancelled because of the weather that came in. I completely understand that decision and I'm sure we will get our chance again.
"When a new guy comes with a new bike and beats you, really beats you every weekend it is difficult. Alvaro had not been here except for a test and we know his level is very high, but this was our time.
"The key for the season is that when I can win - win and if I can't to do the best I can."