Photography by Gold & Goose
In World Superbike doesn’t get any better than this. Jonathan Rea was absolutely perfect on the Imola weekend, earning the pole on his Pata Honda and then leading every lap of both races on the famous Italian circuit. In race two Rea completed his epic day with another outstanding outing, blasting away to an uncontested 4.095 second victory over Ducati’s Chaz Davies. Sylvain Guintoli took third on the Aprilia.
The victory was not only was Rea’s third straight victory in World Superbike, it also carried him to the series championship lead, now four points ahead of defending champ Tom Sykes. For Davies it marked a pair of podiums, his first of the season.
As he did in race one Rea got a picture perfect start on his Honda and led the field into the first turn. Guintoli ran second on the Aprilia with Giugliano third on the Ducati. By second lap the leading trio had already gapped the field with Marco Melandri bringing up the rest of the pack in fourth ahead of Tom Sykes and Chaz Davies. Leon Haslam badly ran off the track in a chicane bringing Leon Camier with him. Both lost several positions as they rejoined the field.
On lap three Sykes moved to fourth past Melandri. On lap five there was a furious battle for fifth between Davies, Baz and Melandri. Up front Rea was now ahead by 1.5 seconds over the G-Men, Guintoli and Giugliano.
At the halfway mark it was Rea continuing to build on his lead with a 2.8 second lead on Guintoli. Giugliano was third, but now had company with Sykes, Davies and Baz on his tail. On lap nine Sykes and Davies made their way around Giugliano, who struggled as the race progressed. Peter Sebestyen crashed out on lap 10. Melandri was slipping back in the field with some issues. He was down to tenth by lap 12.
In the second half Rea was steady up front. Guintoli still second, but his margin was being chipped away by Sykes, Davies and Baz.
On lap 16 of 19 Davies braked so late for a turn that he carried his momentum past Sykes into third. He then found himself right on the tailpipe of Guintoli in what was shaping up to be a grand battle for the runner-up spot.
Niccolo Canepa’s bad day got worse as it appeared his EVO Ducati locked up with about four laps to go.
With three to go Davies squeezed past Guintoli through a chicane to take over second and quickly put a gap on third and that settled it. Rea was safe in the lead with Davies solidly in second and Guintoli now a lonely third. The only question among the front runners was the battle for fourth between he Kawasaki mates Sykes and Baz. On the final lap Baz answered the question by passing his teammate and holding fourth to the flag.
Davide Giugliano came home a distant fifth over Toni Elias. Leon Haslam, Eugene Laverty and Alex Lowes rounded out the top 10.
Camier recovered from his off-track excursion to bring home his BMW again as the top EVO finisher in 12th.
Geoff May earned his best result of the season with 18th on his EBR. His teammate Aaron Yates retired earlier in the race.
Rea is on a roll now and looking for more as the series moves to Great Britain in two weeks.
“It’s been a great weekend,” said Rea, who scored his 14th World Superbike win, tying him with Americans Ben Spies, Scott Russell and John Kocinski on the all-time WSBK wins list. “I knew after race one that we had really good pace. It’s hard to get excited when you’ve got to go out and get a job done. I just want to thank all my crew for their tireless work. For sure I had to finish it off, but they gave me a great bike to do my thing. We’re moving on to Donington, a home ride for me. It’s a circuit I really enjoy, so hopefully we can go there and continue the ball rolling. I want to thank everybody. It feels like we’ve come from such a long way to arrive here finally on the podium consistently.”
For former AMA road racer Chaz Davies, it was all smiles after his best weekend of the season.
“I’m ecstatic, it was a great day,” Davies said. “I had to work a bit harder for that one. I had to come through from I think about sixth and it was tough. I felt a little bit more on the limit than in the first race. In certain areas we improved the bike, but in other areas I felt like we made it a little bit worse. Anyway I’ve got to be really, really happy, just down the road from where the bike was built. To deliver a double podium for Ducati I’m just ecstatic with that. Congrats to Johnny for that double win and happy birthday to my mom tomorrow, her 25th I think [he said with an impish smile].”
Guintoli was happier with his second race at Imola.
“Race two was better,” he said. “Race one we struggled a lot in the last five laps. I really couldn’t up my pace to get into the fight. Then race two was a bit better. Still there were some corners where I was losing a lot of time. We will try to put that right tomorrow in the test. But all in all I fought really hard. I knew to try to stay with Johnny at the start, so I had a good start and tried my best really at the start to go. It was a hard race and I gave my best so I’m happy. Congratulations to Johnny. He had a fantastic weekend.”
Earlier in the day American PJ Jacobsen scored his best result of the season in World Supersport by finishing fourth.
World Superbike Race 2 results from Imola – May 11, 2014
1. Jonathan Rea GBR PATA Honda World Superbike CBR1000RR 19 laps
2. Chaz Davies GBR Ducati Superbike Team 1199 Panigale R +4.095s
3. Sylvain Guintoli FRA Aprilia Racing Team RSV4 +5.546s
4. Loris Baz FRA Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R +6.285s
5. Tom Sykes GBR Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R +7.147s
6. Davide Giugliano ITA Ducati Superbike Team 1199 Panigale R +22.054s
7. Toni Elias ESP Red Devils Roma Aprilia RSV4 +25.811s
8. Leon Haslam GBR PATA Honda World Superbike CBR1000RR +26.127s
9. Eugene Laverty IRL Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 +26.306s
10. Alex Lowes GBR Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 +33.046s
11. Marco Melandri ITA Aprilia Racing Team RSV4 +37.788s
12. Leon Camier GBR BMW Motorrad Italia SBK S1000RR +42.415s (E)
13. David Salom ESP Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R +52.114s (E)
14. Luca Scassa ITA Team Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R +59.001s (E)
15. Fabien Foret FRA MAHI Racing Team India Kawasaki ZX-10R +1'04.364s (E)
16. Jeremy Guarnoni FRA MRS Kawasaki ZX-10R +1'18.512s (E)
17. Alessandro Andreozzi ITA Team Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R +1'34.487s (E)
18. Geoff May USA Team Hero EBR 1190RX +1 Lap
19. Imre Toth HUN BMW Team Toth S1000RR +1 Lap
Niccolo Canepa ITA Althea Racing Ducati 1199 Panigale R DNF (E)
Sheridan Morais RSA IRON BRAIN Grillini Kawasaki ZX-10R DNF (E)
Michel Fabrizio ITA IRON BRAIN Grillini Kawasaki ZX-10R DNF (E)
Peter Sebestyen HUN BMW Team Toth S1000RR DNF (E)
Aaron Yates USA Team Hero EBR 1190RX DNF
Claudio Corti ITA MV Agusta RC-Yakhnich M. F4RR DNF
Ivan Goi ITA BARNI Racing Team Ducati 1199 Panigale R DNF (E)
Ayrton Badovini ITA Team Bimota Alstare BB3 STH (E) *
Christian Iddon GBR Team Bimota Alstare BB3 STH (E) *
* Ineligible to score points until homologated, removed from results (Badovini across the line 12th, Iddon 14th).
(E) = Evo class.
1. J. REA HONDA 139
2. T. SYKES KAWASAKI 135
3. S. GUINTOLI APRILIA 123
4. L. BAZ KAWASAKI 119
5. C. DAVIES DUCATI 87