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Jonathan Rea in tribute to late grandmother after hitting back for Oz success


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That’s for you: Jonathan Rea points to the sky in tribute to his grandmother, who has passed away. ‘Heaven has gained an angel tonight. Good night Nanna!!’ he posted on Twitter

That’s for you: Jonathan Rea points to the sky in tribute to his grandmother, who has passed away. ‘Heaven has gained an angel tonight. Good night Nanna!!’ he posted on Twitter

Jonathan Rea with his grandmother, who has passed away

Jonathan Rea with his grandmother, who has passed away

That’s for you: Jonathan Rea points to the sky in tribute to his grandmother, who has passed away. ‘Heaven has gained an angel tonight. Good night Nanna!!’ he posted on Twitter

Defending World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea bounced back from a 140mph first-race crash at Phillip Island in Australia during the opening round of the 2020 Championship to claim victory in the Superpole race and finish second in the 22-lap race two.

The Kawasaki ace, who has won the title for a record five times in a row, will now head for the next round in Qatar 19 points adrift of Championship leader and team-mate Alex Lowes.

Ulsterman Rea dedicated his 89th WSBK win to his family following the news that his grandmother Nanna had died in Northern Ireland on Saturday night.

"Heaven has gained an angel tonight. Good night Nanna," he tweeted.

Eugene Laverty, 11th in race one, was an absentee from Superpole and race two yesterday following a warm-up crash that left him with concussion and declared unfit to race.

Sensational racing saw Rea lead the 10-lap Superpole race from start to finish, fending off a last-corner challenge from Toprak Razgatlioglu to win by a mere 0.067 seconds with Scott Redding third, 0.005 seconds behind the Turkish Yamaha rider.

The second 22-lap race was an epic nine-rider battle before Lowes, Rea, Redding and Michael van der Mark (Yamaha) pulled clear to fight out the closing stages.

Lowes held off a final-corner move by Rea and won the race to the chequered flag by 0.037 seconds with Redding securing a hat-trick of third positions, 0.812 seconds behind the Ulsterman.

Van Der Mark was fourth and Chaz Davies staged a miraculous comeback to finish fifth from 15th on the grid.

"After the crash in race one, I got a great start in the Superpole race and just put my head down," said Rea.

"Toprak showed me his front wheel a time or two, but on the final corner I threw the bike down the inside line knowing I had more traction.

"I really wanted to win that race for my family."

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Jonathan Rea with his grandmother, who has passed away

Jonathan Rea with his grandmother, who has passed away

Jonathan Rea with his grandmother, who has passed away

"It would have been nice to win race two, but I didn't have the 22-lap experience after what happened in race one.

"With five laps to go, I put my head down, but I felt a drop in my rear tyre. Alex and Scott both got past me and once back in front of the Ducati, Alex had a bit of a gap. I got right in behind him on the last lap and almost hit his exhaust on the final corner, but he just beat me.

"Congratulations to him and an outstanding one-two for the Ninja ZX-IORR Kawasaki.

"Yesterday we were 25 points behind, today we are 19 behind, so all in all a positive day."

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Michael Dunlop

Michael Dunlop

Michael Dunlop

Meanwhile, Michael Dunlop has secured a deal to race one of the Paul Bird Motorsport factory-supported Vision Track Ducati Panigale V4 R machines in the Superbike races at the North West 200 and in the Isle of Man TT Superbike and Senior races.

The 19-time TT winner, who rode most of 2019 with a shoulder injury and didn't have the best TT by his high standards despite top-six finishes and winning the Lightweight event, will also race his own machines in the 2020 Superstock and Supersport races.

PBM and the 30-year old Ballymoney man have worked together before when the Cumbrian-based team prepared a Kawasaki ZX-10R for him to win the 2011 Superstock TT.

Dunlop said: "I'm really excited with the new challenge. Over the last while I didn't have much of a plan on the go.

"I would like to thank all the guys at PBM for all the hard work they are going through to get a bike built and ready."

Dunlop is currently in Jerez in Spain for the official BSB test and had over 30 laps on the bike yesterday.

Belfast Telegraph