Britain’s Jonathan Rea secured two more strong podium finishes at an all-new World Superbike Championships venue, but he now has to share top position in the series with arch rival Toprak Razgatlioglu, from Turkey.
The first ever WSBK round at the Circuito de Navarra in Spain was a tough challenge for Kawasaki’s six-times world champion Rea, but he still left with a full house of podium places, after placing second and third at the weekend, the event marking the halfway point in the season.
In the first points scoring opportunity on Sunday, the 10-lap Superpole race, Rea was a battling and close second, just over one second behind the race winner, Britain’s Scott Redding.
As the temperatures increased for the planned 23-lap race two, Rea would end up third, fighting grip issues in the later laps after riding in second place for most of what was, in reality, a 22-lap race.
The start of race two was delayed as two riders in the starting line up had separate issues and the other riders had to sit on the grid for some time before the ‘Start Delayed’ board was shown.
One lap was removed from the race distance as a consequence of the late start.
As the championship fight heats up and the mid-point of the season has been crossed over this weekend Rea and Razgatlioglu are tied on 311 points, as joint leaders of the championship. Redding, the race one and Superpole race winner at Navarra, is third overall with 273 points.
Rea’s Kawasaki team-mate Alex Lowes has 169 points and is in fourth position overall.
The championship visits a well known venue in France for Round Eight, when Magny Cours hosts the next event between September 3-5.
“I had a little bit more margin today. I felt after the Superpole race that I could really fight for it in race two,” said Rea afterwards.
“Toprak made a huge step, he was very fast and the rhythm was faster than yesterday. For 10 laps I was fighting, fighting, fighting, and I was just waiting for his speed to drop off – but it never really did.
“I was losing front feeling, having a lot of front slides and it was time for me then to consolidate. I had a big moment in the last corner, when I hit an object on the track, which was just off line. That made the front bobble and I caught the slide, and then I had another slide in T13.
“It was one of those – a tough weekend. It wasn’t perfect for everybody, people were slipping and sliding around, but it penalised us a little bit more. That said, it was solid. I wasn’t confident coming here so to come away with what we did, and not losing too many points in the championship. It could have been much worse for us.”
Photo courtesy Jamie Morris
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Leading WSBK standings after round 7 in Spain:
1= Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 311
1= Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) 311
3. Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 273
4. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 169
5. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) 151
6. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 150