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Rea race one masterclass transforms WorldSBK title battle

Saturday, July 06 2019

Kawasaki's reigning four time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea delivered a wet weather masterclass in race one at Donington Park this afternoon (Saturday), to claim victory and take the championship lead.

Rea entered the race 16 points in arrears of Ducati's Alvaro Bautista, but the Spanish rider crashed out of the race on lap 11, meaning Rea's victory catapulted him into the championship lead for the first time this season, despite having been over 60 points behind just a few weeks ago. 

Polesitter Tom Sykes claimed second for BMW Motorrad after losing out to Rea at the start, with Donington-local Leon Haslam securing third place and another podium on home soil.

Loris Baz enjoyed a battle with Haslam in the early stages of the contest before the Kawasaki rider made a move stick at McLeans on lap six, leaving Baz to take fourth on the new Ten Kate Yamaha, ahead of another local rider Alex Lowes, who climbed from eighth on the grid to fifth for Pata Yamaha.

Leandro Mercado claimed sixth ahead of Peter Hickman, with Michael van der Mark eighth despite his Misano injury. Alessandro Delbianco took ninth, and pulled of a miraculous save at the Craners on lap six, and passed Chaz Davies late on, who completed the top-10 for Ducati.

Rea made the best start of the front row starters to get the holeshot to Redgate, demoting Sykes to second. The reigning champion built a lead of almost three seconds on lap one, which he extended up to over 11 seconds at the end of the race.

The championship lead looked to be cut to just two points in the early stages as Bautista ran fifth, but two falls at Starkeys on the same lap for Jordi Torres and Sandro Cortese were then followed by another fall for the Spanish rider next time around. His third fall in five races swings the championship battle in Rea's favour, with the Northern Irishman holding a nine point margin ahead of the Tissot Superpole race tomorrow.

Rea commented: "It's mad to be in this position, the way the championship's been going. I'm just so happy, so happy for my team because they never ever give up and in this condition it's so easy to make a mistake and I had to stay 100% concentrated every single lap.

"It was the longest race of my life because I had a big gap straight away but that made me more nervous, and I was riding quite tight but in the last laps I said 'okay, just do my rhythm and let's see'. I had a few moments out there but I want to thank all my team because they gave me a great bike today in these conditions, so we'll take this one today and think about tomorrow's race now it looks like it should be dry.

"Thanks to all the British fans that came out because the weather's not great and there's so many people here at Donington, so thank you!"

WorldSBK Donington Park race one result:

1. Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team, 23 laps
2. Tom Sykes, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team, +11.348s
3. Leon Haslam, Kawasaki Racing Team, +23.071s
4. Loris Baz, Ten Kate Racing Yamaha, +29.935s
5. Alex Lowes, Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team, +37.641s
6. Leandro Mercado, Orelac Racing VerdNatura, +46.917s
7. Peter Hickman, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team, +1m00.135s
8. Michael van der Mark, Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team, +1m07.062s
9. Alessandro Delbianco, Althea Mie Racing Team, +1m10.752s
10. Chaz Davies, ARUBA.IT Racing Ducati, +1m11.453s

Click here for full result. 

Tickets for the UK round of the Motul FIM Superbike World Championship are available on the gate all weekend, with free entry for under-13s. For more information, click here.