Jonathan Rea increases World Superbike championship lead despite his first loss
Ballyclare's Jonathan Rea stretched his World Superbike championship lead to a healthy 50 points after taking a win - his fifth of the season - and a second place for Kawasaki, during round three of this year's series at Motorland Aragon in Spain over the weekend.
Rea hassled and harried Ducati-mounted Welshman Chaz Davies during Saturday's race one, forcing the long-time race leader into a mistake on the penultimate lap, to take his fifth consecutive win of the year.
In race two yesterday, Rea again applied the pressure on Davies and did lead for nine of the 18 laps; also having a go in the closing stages, but hard-charging Welshman Davies refused to be denied, taking his first win of the season for Ducati and his fourth in the past five outings at the Alcaniz circuit.
"I got to the front quite early but I could not make a break because it was so windy on the straight, that the group all stayed together," Rea, who was suffering from a head and chest cold throughout yesterday's proceedings, said afterwards.
"When Chaz came past he had a little bit more pace and I upped my own pace to try and go with him.
"He made a few mistakes but none that meant I could really go through clean on him and make it stick."
Recounting the final circuit, he added: "On the last lap I just fought as hard as I could. I really fought for the win. I tried in a few places but it didn't work out in the end.
"We can't complain too much because on one side of the track we were really strong.
"Congratulations to Chaz because to come back from a big crash yesterday and win today was really impressive. I am really happy with the way I rode today and I scored 45 points this weekend, even though I was not feeling my best. But the bike was working really well so I am looking forward to rolling out at Assen now."
Marco Melandri made it a Ducati double podium, with Rea's team-mate Sykes fourth, ahead of Michael Van Der Mark [Pata Yamaha] and Spain's Xavi Fores [Barni Racing Ducati].
Eugene Laverty took 10th and ninth placed finishes over the weekend's two races aboard his Milwaukee Aprilia. The Toomebridge rider is currently 10th in the championship standings after three rounds.
Speaking afterwards, Laverty lamented: "It was a tough weekend overall, and at the moment we don't have a bike we can fight with, there's something that we are missing."
In the championship table, Rea has 145 points, just five from a perfect score, with Davies on 95 and Tom Sykes 91 after three rounds and six races.
Rea's KRT squad remain in Spain where there test again today at Motorland, as part of the organisers' official test programme.
The next round will take place at Assen in the Netherlands, with race days on Saturday, April 29 and Sunday, April 30.