Belfast Telegraph

Jonathan Rea frustrated as his bid for double success falls short

By Paul Lindsay

Reigning World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea will head into the heavily punctuated summer break deeply frustrated, after his first non-finish in the WSB series since the final race of the 2015 season in Qatar.

Having taken the win in Saturday's opening race - his eighth of the season - which extended his championship lead to 71 points, the Ulsterman retired from race two at Laguna Seca in America yesterday, ending his run of 17 consecutive podiums this season on the factory Kawasaki.

The race had been red-flagged and re-started, and having got caught behind Honda's Nicky Hayden (third in race one) early on, Rea did force his way past the American former MotoGP world champion and began the task of hunting down team-mate Sykes and Davide Giugliano on the factory Ducati at the head of the field.

On lap four he mugged both men at the infamous Corkscrew, but only a few corners later the Isle of Man based Ballyclare ace ran wide and off the track.

He did rejoin in tenth place, but was soon off his bike inspecting the chain, which subsequently forced his first retirement of the year.

The non-score allowed 2013 champion Sykes to forge ahead for the victory over Giugliano and fellow Ducati pilot Chaz Davies.

It was the Yorkshire rider's fifth victory of the season, but such was the effort in fending off the Ducati's, he didn't even realise Rea had retired.

"I was so caught up in my own race I didn't know Jonathan had gone out," he said.

"We've struggled all weekend with set-up, but made a decent compromise.

"To establish pole position and take a first and second in the two races is a decent weekend."

With the series now heading into a two-month lock-down until the German round at Lausitzring on September 17/18th, Sykes added: "To get the win in the last race before the summer break is very strong.

"We will enjoy the moment and go home and enjoy some family time now.

"It's been an intense few weeks, but we will come back and focus on the final four rounds of the season and take it from there." Sykes now trails Rea by 46 points with four rounds and eight races remaining.

Rea has now led the series for 42 races, and having taken his maiden win at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, he said: "I am super happy to have won here and now that we have had 25 laps on the bike in race conditions we have good information to try and improve again."

Unfortunately that improvement didn't come to fruition, due to the race two retirement, which was beyond the reigning world champion's control.

But with only eight races remaining, he is a very strong favourite to be the first rider to defend his crown since Carl Fogarty in the 1998/99 seasons.

Belfast Telegraph

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