Rea and Sykes continue team’s excellent European form with one-two finish
If there were any doubt that the ZK-10RRs were the bikes to beat this year, after a troubled start in Australia and Thailand, the European season must have put many fears to bed. The Kawasaki Racing Team riders had performed well throughout both previous European rounds, and at Imola, just like they did at Assen Race 2, they dominated proceedings throughout the day.
For Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), the victory at Imola was his fourth of the season and fourth consecutive Round with a win. The reigning champion looked more comfortable than at any moment this season so far, blasting off from the lights and keeping a stable yet unassailable pace all throughout the race.
Rea knew that from pole things would be easier, and the day went completely in his favour. “That was the game-plan to be honest”, he says. “We had a good pace and I wanted to set my own rhythm, try to make a small gap and then manage. Quite fast the gap grew to three seconds, and then I could improve and respond when it went stagnant, so it was a really nice victory. It seems like Race 1 is the ‘nice’ race to win, and I mean, I just really enjoyed it! The team gave me a great bike”.
The Kawasaki team were one of those who flew to Brno between races to push that extra bit of rhythm out of their machines. For Rea, it seemed to work perfectly: “We arrived here with the bike we set up at the Brno test, and it worked straight away. I’m really happy with that, because Brno was really fast and flowing, while this circuit is all stop and go, and a lot of first-gear corners, so I was really happy with that. We haven’t touched the bike a lot – it shows that we had the bike in a good base. Hopefully we can keep working with it, fine-tuning, and making improvements throughout the year”.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) couldn’t quite match his teammate’s pace on Saturday, but his second place is a second successive podium finish in a season that, up to now, hadn’t quite gone to plan. He moves up to fourth in the championship, and will fancy his chances at closing the gap with both Aruba.it riders.
Qualifying wasn’t easy for Sykes, however, as deleted laps meant he only had one real shot at a perfect lap: “It was tight, I still had half my tyre on the curb, so it’s very difficult to judge. I just think that if all the tyre is off the inside of the curb then sure, but on this circuit, with these bikes, you’d like to think there’s a little bit of tolerance, but obviously not. That only affected the way I pushed on my qualifying tyre. “I didn’t have an insurance, a bank lap, so I didn’t want to go over the limit. Front row was good enough, and it certainly made today’s race easier”.
Sykes will start from row 3 tomorrow. Could another podium finish be on the cards? “Why not? Today’s race was not too bad, Jonathan has just been in great form”, he says confidently. “Tomorrow, third row of the grid, I’m quite confident in myself and the bike, it’s just trying to judge and get past all the other riders which has proven to be a problem in the past. We need to not make it a problem tomorrow”.
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