Rea’s third place in Race 2 means no British rider in top-2 after 51 races
From their early form on Friday and Saturday morning and their history here, many thought that the only uncertainty heading into the two MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship races at Donington Park was in which order would Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) take first and second position. Before the start of this year’s Prosecco DOC UK Round, the pair had won the last 11 races here – usually with the other following just behind.
But if Saturday’s result was shocking, Sunday doubled the surprise, with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), riding as a privateer, beating both works Kawasaki. The race was particularly frustrating for Rea, who has now taken the lead in two races, only to be beaten back before the flag.
In most circumstances, a third place climbing from eighth on the grid would be a cause for, at least satisfaction – but Rea is no ordinary rider. It’s the third time the defending champion finds himself off the top two spots in a race this season, the same amount as the whole of 2017, and more than at this stage in 2015 and 2016.
Nonetheless, he increases his lead leaving the UK: “It’s been a really positive weekend, just not the most beautiful race from my side. It was very difficult in the beginning, coming through traffic, it seemed as if there were a lot more guys with pace. When I got through with Alex, I could set my own rhythm”
Once he got through to the front, Rea had some issues on track, which gave Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team). But perhaps not ones he expected: “I ran into a huge bunch of bugs going into the chicane. It was like I’d just been peppered with bugs all over my tear-off! I missed the chicane, and that gave Mickey the chance to pounce. I tried to keep up with him, but at that point I was wasting so much tyre and energy, I couldn’t get it done.
It’s Brno next, the equator of the championship, and a great chance to return to the top: “We had a great test there a few weeks ago, we changed the bike a lot. I love the circuit there, it’s somewhere where I think I can use the best of my potential and the bike’s”.
“These next three races come in quick succession, so it’s important to be strong in each and every one before the summer break”, he concludes.
Sykes suffered more than Rea, with the nine-time Donington winner succumbing to sixth after a mix of bad tyre choices and race incidents: “I had a good start, but then I was running alongside Loris. He pulled to the right and hit my handlebar, and then Jonathan came past and hit my other handlebar! I had a good initial launch, but then lost all my advantage. We had a good battle with some good overtakes, I enjoyed it that moment, but then again, disappointment.
“It looks like we missed out on the tyre”, he admits. “We continued with the standard tyre and really suffered with the traction. The guys in front obviously used the bigger one. I felt we had good speed to be a lot closer, I was battling with Savadori but we were doing really slow times at that stage. I’m disappointed, but there’s nothing we can do now. Onwards and upwards”.
Watch the KRT riders’ full performance at the Prosecco DOC UK Round thanks to the WorldSBK VideoPass.