Belfast Telegraph

Rea has world in his hands but keeps feet on ground

By Paul Lindsay

Jonathan Rea extended his World Superbike Championship lead to an almost unassailable 124 points over his Kawasaki Racing team-mate Tom Sykes after taking his fourth double victory of the season during round seven in Portugal.

After recording his 24th and 25th World Superbike career victories, the Ulsterman said: "I have a great bike and a great team around me.

"We also work on a great strategy for every weekend.

"The points gap is a lot after this round, but I will try not to change the way I am riding."

Rea's double also moves him into third place in the most consecutive WSB podium finishes with 15, surpassing four-time world champion Carl Fogarty who recorded a best effort of 13 during his career.

One wonders how many records the 28-year-old can surpass this season having also taken seven fastest laps to date in 2015.

In the opening exchanges in race one it was a cat and mouse affair between the Kawasaki duo of Rea and Sykes until rain started to fall just six laps from the finish.

Rea was able to capitalise on a mistake from Sykes after they had pitted for wet tyres, and went on to take the win by some nine seconds.

The race one win was Rea's first wet weather win for Kawasaki, with Welshman Chaz Davies taking third place on the Panigale R Ducati.

In race two at the Portimao circuit, it was Sykes who led in the opening laps, pulling Rea and David Giugliano on the Ducati away from the persuing pack.

Rea hit the front on lap 12, and once the Manx-based rider had clear track in front of him, he left his team-mate and the Italian to dispute the lower podium positions.

His victory at the finish was by some 5.4 seconds, moving him onto 130 points after just 14 races this season, which is a phenomenal effort from Kawasaki's new golden boy, who now heads back to the Isle of Man to take in the Monster Energy parade lap on Wednesday.

Sykes suffered a technical problem in the closing stages and dropped to eighth at the finish, leaving Giugliano and the Red Devils Aprilia of Leon Haslam to fill the minor podium positions.

Rea said: "We learned from some of the mistakes we make at Donington.

"That made us stronger here at Portimao and I was riding well, but I have the tools to do it," Rea added.

"Massive credit to all my mechanics for working so hard and KHI in Japan, who are continuing to develop," he commented.

Frenchman Jules Cluzel moved into second place in the World Supersport Championship after taking the win for the MV Agusta Reparto Corse team.

Championship leader Kenan Sofuoglu led on the final lap after some hard-fought exchanges with the little Frenchman but it was Cluzel who took the chequered flag with American PJ Jacobsen third on his debut with the Core Motorsport Honda team.

Belfast Telegraph


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