KRT riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes scored first and second places respectively in race one at the fifth round of the WorldSBK Championship in Imola, after breaking free of their main competitors in the first few laps.
In warm and sticky conditions Rea started the first 19-lap race of the WorldSBK race weekend from pole position, having secured his 16th career Superpole just a couple of hours before the 1pm race start.
Jonathan led from flag-to-flag with only his own team-mate Sykes for company in the first few laps, before Rea’s pace took him to an eventual margin of victory of 3.755 seconds. His latest win was his fourth of the season, all of them coming at different circuits, and the Northern Irishman now holds a commanding 42-point lead in the championship.
Rea’s fourth success of the year was the 58th of his career and takes him to within one victory of sharing the all-time record for WorldSBK race wins with Carl Fogarty. His next podium placement will be his 120th, putting him only 10 shy of the all-time record of Troy Corser (130).
“Going to the front from the start was my only plan today. My pace has been a little bit extra all weekend so the best thing for me to was to set my own rhythm and not get involved in anyone else’s race. There was a five lap plan to make a small gap but I had more than one second of advantage, so I was happy to ride to my own pit-board after that. When the gap was stagnant I could make a small effort, without taking many risks, because the temperature came up quite a lot today. The bike behaved differently because of this, so I was just trying to understand all the limits of the bike through the race and bring it home. It felt like a long race but I had a good solid rhythm, and that was enough.”
Tom Sykes started well and pushed his pace before realising that second was going to be his best possible result and he took 20 valuable championship points.
Sykes’ finished over three seconds ahead of his closest podium challenger, and is now fourth in the championship standings.
Tom Sykes – P2
“I was fairly happy with the bike set-up and the pace was pretty good. Yesterday looked worse on paper than it was, because we did a lot of trial and error testing, but today we put it all together. I just missed a few tenths of a second compared to Jonathan. I had clear track for much of today so I was able to use the bike in the best way possible. I just followed the warnings from the front and rear tyres and in some areas I was not quite as settled on the front. We need to improve just in some areas tomorrow. We will work to make a few little set-up changes to enable me to push a little bit faster at the beginning of race two.”
Marco Melandri had been fourth during Superpole and got off to a strong start and fought in the chasing group early on, then pulled away thanks to a progressively better pace, taking his fourth podium of the year.
Marco Melandri – P3
“All in all, we can be happy because I couldn’t have done more today. It was a hard race, and early on I was struggling with a full fuel tank and I couldn’t keep up with the Kawasakis. I tried everything I could, and I made a couple of mistakes as I was on the limit. From lap 10 onwards we’ve been really fast, so we need to analyze the data to restart from there in Race 2 tomorrow. I want to thank the home crowd for their support, the atmosphere is always incredible here and this podium is for all of them.”
Chaz Davies faced a uphill race as, after taking first row during Superpole, he was penalized by a difficult start and a brief run-off during lap 2. The Welshman did not surrender and showed a pace worthy of the front, climbing back from 8th to 4th. Davies will thus start Race 2 from pole position.
Chaz Davies – P4
“Unfortunately we couldn’t get a good start, then I went straight at the last chicane, so I had a quite a bit of catching up to do after that. In the end our pace was really good, so I think we could have fought for the podium if not the win, but we came through just a little too late. Looking at the positives, tomorrow we’ll start from pole position. It’s the first time I’ll be able to take advantage of this rule, but we can also still improve a few details.”
BSB rider Jason O’Halloran was recruited into the Red Bull Honda team to replace Leon Camier this weekend only to suffer injury himself, the Aussie crashed on lap two at the entry to the Villeneuve Chicane, breaking his ankle.
Fellow regular BSB rider Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) started from 11th place on the grid and finished his first race of the WorldSBK season ninth.
Imola WorldSBK Race One Results
Jonathan Rea Kawasaki GBR
Tom Sykes Kawasaki GBR +3.755
Marco Melandri Ducati ITA +6.906
Chaz Davies Ducati GBR +8.191
Xavi Fores Ducati ESP +15.550
Michael van der Mark Yamaha NLD
Michael Ruben Rinaldi Ducati ITA
Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia ITA
Leon Haslam Kawasaki GBR
Alex Lowes Yamaha GBR
WorldSBK Championship Points
Van Der Mark 113
Mahias beats downpour to take WorldSSP Superpole
Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) made the most out of his one attempt at a dry lap to take his third Superpole of the FIM Supersport World Championship. After sunshine all throughout the day at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola, the rain conditioned the second qualifying session, shuffling the starting grid for tomorrow.
The first drops fell at the tail-end of Superpole 1, with Massimo Roccoli (G.A.S. Racing Team) and Rob Hartog (Team Hartog – Against Cancer) making the best of the still-dry conditions. By the time the twelve best men came out on track, it quickly became a race to record a lap before the conditions worsened. Those who pushed early hit the jackpot – while the first four rode in 1’53 and 1’54s, from fifth backwards no rider made it under 1’58.701.
Second behind Mahias was Jules Cluzel (NRT), continuing his good form from Assen. The front row will be completed tomorrow with Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing). Despite coming in with little preparation or training in 2018, the WorldSSP legend will be in a prime position to finish his career in the best way possible.
The good news for Mahias didn’t stop here, as his two closest contenders for the championship finished the session at the other end of the standings. Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) will start from ninth tomorrow, while Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) will have to command another fight from the back as he starts from eleventh.
Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) will start from the front of the second row, in fourth. Hartog took advantage of the conditions to make it in in fifth place, by far the best rider competing in the FIM Europe Supersport Cup. Sixth was Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing), while Roccoli finished the session with the seventh fastest time.
Anthony West qualified 17th in his return from injury but was 10th in the Sunday morning warm-up ahead of the race.
WorldSSP Imola Qualifying
Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team)
Jules Cluzel (NRT) +0.985
Kenan Sofuoflu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) +1.629
History made as Ana Carrasco flies to pole
An extraordinarily fast Ana Carrasco (DS Junior Team) clinched the third Superpole of the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship season, smashing the track record and beating the second rider by nearly a second. Carrasco is the first female rider to take pole in the WorldSSP300 category.
The qualifying was drama-filled from the first moment, with notable absences in the Superpole 2. Both race winners of 2018, Luca Grunwald (Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team) and Koen Meuffels (KTM Fortron Junior Team) were unable to make it through the Superpole 1, as was the case with last year’s poleman Mika Pérez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team), who crashed after just three laps.
At the start of Superpole 2, Carrasco stayed behind from the pack, as the other riders huddled together in an attempt to use the brief slipstream moments Imola allows for. Riding by herself proved to be an excellent strategy, as the Spaniard set fastest lap after fastest lap. After also topping the charts in the Free Practice sessions on Friday, she will be confident at her chances of a first win in 2018.
Pole Position – Ana Carrasco (DS Junior Team)
“I am really happy today, we changed something from yesterday and I want to say thanks to the team. It’s good for us to start from the pole position, we have a good lap time and we hope to make a good race tomorrow.”
Behind Carrasco, championship leader Scott Deroue (Motoport Kawasaki) came in second, and will be accompanied on the front row by fellow Dutchman and teammate Robert Schotman (Motoport Kawasaki), with his first front row start of the year. One event rider Manuel Bastianelli (PRODINA IRCOS Team) was the first home racer on the grid in fourth, followed by Borja Sánchez (ETG Racing) and wildcard Kevin Sabatucci (PROGP Racing).
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