Rea overcomes crash and red tape drama to land Japan win
Northern Ireland's World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea emerged uninjured and victorious in a dramatic end to the tough Suzuka 8 Hour endurance race in Japan yesterday after it looked as though his late crash had dashed his Kawasaki team's hopes.
Templepatrick-based Rea (32) had been on a charge to victory after surviving late scares from a crashing backmarker and rain which hit the track in the final 30 minutes.
But Rea slid off the track after encountering an oil spill from a rival bike, triggering a red flag stoppage, after which the Yamaha team, running second, were awarded victory.
The decision was mistakenly made under a World Superbike rule which doesn't apply to the Suzuka event, requiring unhurt Rea to make it back to the paddock within a five-minute window from his fall.
He said later: "Emotionally words can't sum up today. I'm so proud of my team, my team mates and Kawasaki."
A protest was immediately submitted by aggrieved Kawasaki chiefs which was upheld on review to reinstate Rea and his team-mates, Leon Haslam and Toprak Razgatlioglu.Rea also remains on course for an unprecedented fifth successive World Superbike title as he holds an 81-point lead at the season's halfway stage.