WorldSBK Race One: Reigning champion triumphs in Czech return and opens 81-point gap in title battle
When the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship last graced the flowing hills of the Automotodrom Brno, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was a promising 25-year-old with 10 race wins to his name, no world championships, and still very much a diamond in the rough. The contrast on Saturday was startling. Six years later, the KRT rider led a perfect race to take his sixth victory of the season, making him the most successful WorldSBK rider in history with 60 race wins, above the legendary Carl Fogarty.
At the longest track in the season, it was fitting for the action to be more extended than usual. Rea overtook teammate Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) at the start, but crashes by Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team) forced a red flag and race restart – twice, due to technical issues on the grid.
At the third time of asking, with the race length now down to 16 laps, Sykes defended his position at turn one, but Rea was in front a couple of turns later, keeping Sykes behind and jetting off. The Northern Irishman was also helped by the action behind, with Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) putting Sykes under pressure. Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) also joined the fray, swapping positions several times with his teammate in a thrilling battle.
Rea went untroubled from this point forward, leading a composed ride to the finish line. He was the only rider managing laps times under two minutes, keeping a 4-5 second gap from his closest pursuers. The defending champion has now opened an 81-point gap with Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), who struggled to finish the race eighth and sees his championship pursuit become even tougher.
Behind the leader, Melandri finally got the best of Sykes in lap 4, taking his best result since round one with second. It’s the fifth podium for Melandri at Brno in WorldSBK, and a fantastic comeback after a disastrous Donington weekend. Sykes crossed the line in third, two seconds off the Italian.
The rostrum was finally just not close enough for the Yamaha riders, with van der Mark beating Lowes to fourth place. Both men will lead the line in race two, a fantastic opportunity to move their personal tussle to the front tomorrow.
A thrilling battle for sixth midway through the race saw Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) emerge triumphant and back into the top positions. He got the best of teammate Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia), who still managed to beat Davies in the final laps for seventh.
Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) netted himself another top-10 finish. Still not 100%, the Brit still managed to come in ninth at the flag, ahead of Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in tenth, the first independent rider at Brno. Yonny Hernández (Team Pedercini Racing) confirmed his good form at the Czech circuit, returning to the WorldSBK paddock in eleventh after missing the UK Round.
WorldSBK Race 1 Results: 1. Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki 2. Marco Melandri – Ducati 3. Tom Sykes – Kawasaki
Rea: How He Made History
Reigning MOTUL FIM Superbike World Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) has made history at Automotodrom Brno this weekend, reaching 60 WorldSBK victories to become the most successful rider of all time. Read how he has written his names in the history books:
2nd February 1987 – Born in Ballymena, Northern Ireland
1997 – British 60cc motocross champion
2003 – Moved over to road racing – British 125GP Championship
2004 – Joined British Supersport Championship
2007 – British Superbike Championship Runner-Up
2008 – Debuted in World Supersport Championship and wild card in WorldSBK
2009 – Moved to WorldSBK with Honda, first victory in Misano’s Race Two
2012 – Took his 10th WorldSBK victory at Donington Park – Race Two
2015 – Joined Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK, Crowned World Champion
2015 – Secured his 20th WorldSBK Victory in WorldSBK, in Assen Race One. His 5th for Kawasaki
2015 – 25th WorldSBK victory secured in Portimao Race Two
2016 – Took 30th WorldSBK victory in the opening race of the season at Phillip Island
2016 – First back to back world champion since Carl Fogarty
2017 – Won his 40th race victory at Phillip Island’s race two
2017 – First rider in history to take three WorldSBK titles in a row and secured his 50th race win
2018 – Equalled Carl Fogarty’s overall win record at Imola, his 59th overall
2018 – Secured most victories ever in WorldSBK at Automotodrom Brno
Congratulate Rea with the hashtag #REAcord on social media channels
Jonathan Rea WorldSBK Career Stats
WorldSBK Race Two: Phenomenal Lowes leads Yamaha one-two at Brno
Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) took his first-ever MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship race win at the Acerbis Czech Round, in an astonishing race two which saw championship leader Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) crash out early on. The thousands of Czech fans present at the Automotodrom Brno witnessed a wild, unpredictable affair, ending in a Yamaha one-two and a sixth race winner in 2018.
The front row all kept their positions at the start, with van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) holding off his teammate through the first corners. Lowes’ would make his move into the race lead the following lap however, gaining the inside line at turn one.
Meanwhile, Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) climbed all the way from eighth on the grid to third by lap two, and past van der Mark a few turns later.
The next couple of laps saw three dramatic, almost unbelievable twists. First, championship leader Jonathan Rea went down at turn 12, apparently after coming in contact with teammate Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). The Northern Irish rider couldn’t make it back on track, retiring for the first time this season. If yesterday his lead seemed almost unsurmountable, after Sunday there was more than a glimmer of hope.
Next, Marco Melandri, having just passed Lowes for the race lead, couldn’t control his Ducati barely a couple of turns later and rode through the gravel, immediately dropping the Italian to the back of the field and denying Melandri a return to the top of the rostrum when he was the fastest man on track. And then Sykes slipped in lap six, leaving all of yesterday’s podium off the rostrum in race two. In four seasons together, never had both British KRT riders left a race empty-handed. At least Melandri managed to scrape a point in fifteenth.
A dozen laps left, the stage was thus set for a Yamaha battle to the end, as Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), in third, was unable to match the pair’s pace. But this time, unlike when he led at Donington, Lowes’ YZF-R1 did not drop off in the final third: a smart, consistent and overall flawless ride by the Brit kept him ahead of his Dutch teammate all the way to the chequered flag with two seconds to spare. The man from Lincolnshire made his debut at Brno in 2011 – seven years on, he can finally call himself a WorldSBK winner.
With van der Mark claiming another podium finish in second, the Dutchman moves into third in the championship standings, above Sykes; while Davies, an excellent third at Brno considering the issues that have plagued his weekend on the Panigale, cut Rea’s lead to 65 points.
Behind them rostrum riders, Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) took fourth, his best result of the campaign, with his teammate Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) also a season-best in fifth. More good results for the Italian manufacturer, adding their bikes to the long list of podium contenders this season.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team) had a career-best of 6th at Brno, rising from eleventh on the grid in just his tenth WorldSBK race. He finishes above Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), in seventh. Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) returned to the top-ten in eighth, with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in ninth, and Román Ramos (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) tenth.
WorldSBK is back in two weeks from Laguna Seca, a special circuit with some of the best sections of the championship.
WorldSBK Race 2 Results: 1. Alex Lowes – Yamaha 2. Michael van der Mark – Yamaha 3. Chaz Davies – Ducati
WorldSBK Championship Standings
1. Jonathan Rea – 270 points (Kawasaki) 2. Chaz Davies – 205 points (Ducati) 3. Michael van der Mark – 196 points (Yamaha) 4. Tom Sykes – 179 points (Kawasaki) 5. Marco Melandri – 157 points (Ducati)
WorldSSP: Cluzel reigns at Brno after stunning battle with Corese
Whoever said second round is never as good as the first, has clearly not met Jules Cluzel (NRT) and Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing). After a first promising tussle at Donington Park, the pair put an even more thrilling battle at the Automotodrom Brno to heat up the FIM Supersport World Championship even further, the Frenchman managing to best his championship rival this time around and moving just two points behind in the standings.
Cluzel struck first at the lights, taking advantage of a slow start from Cortese to move into first by turn one. Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) also made his way into second, a position he would lose back to Cortese however by the end of lap one, with Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) also moving into third above the Swiss rider a few turns later. Meanwhile, Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) suffered his second retirement of the season, going down at turn eight.
The two frontrunners had battled on the timesheets all throughout the weekend, and that rivalry translated to the track, with a thrilling sequence at the tail-end of lap four leaving an early highlight: Cortese cut ahead of Cluzel at turn 11, but the Frenchman shot back two bends later, both riders nearly coming together in a flashback of Cortese’s winning move at Donington Park. No love lost between the pair. In the midst of that action, the shadow of De Rosa’s MV Agusta crept up behind.
By lap ten, Cluzel was facing mind-blowing pressure in the lead, with Cortese not even a tenth of a second behind. But two, three, four laps went by, and the championship leader, with better pace, couldn’t find his moment to attack – or chose not to. His moment came in the final lap: turn three saw the German move in front, but a wide line allowed Cluzel to push in around the outside of turn four. Again, the pair clashed, with Cluzel managing to just squeeze out in front, and hold his lead until the chequered flag. A third win of the season for Cluzel, who emerges from the Czech round as the clear contender to Cortese’s championship lead.
With De Rosa drifting behind in the final laps – managing his fourth consecutive podium, however – there was more action at the back, with Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) claiming fourth place over Krummenacher at the end, as well as the fastest lap of the race.
Thomas Gradinger (NRT) completed an excellent Sunday for the NRT team with his best result of the campaign in sixth. Another frenetic battle in the middle of the pack between Anthony West (EAB antwest Racing) and Kyle Smith (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda), with the veteran Australian edging ahead of the new CIA Landlord rider for seventh place. Behind, Eerneli Lahti (Sterkman Motorsport by HRP) took his first top-10 finish of the campaign in ninth, scoring vital points for the FIM Europe Supersport Cup.
Can the championship battle get any closer? The next WorldSSP round will be in four weeks at Misano.
WorldSSP Race Results: 1. Jules Cluzel – Yamaha 2. Sandro Cortese – Yamaha 3. Raffaele de Rosa – MV Agusta
Australians: 7. Anthony West – Kawasaki
WorldSSP Championship Standings
1. Sandro Cortese – 122 points (Yamaha) 2. Jules Cluzel – 120 points (Yamaha) 3. Randy Krummenacher – 105 points (Yamaha) 4. Lucas Mahias – 103 points (Yamaha) 5. Raffaele de Rosa – 83 points (MV Agusta)