The Ducati pairing were left to duel in the wake of Jonathan Rea, who took his 73rd career win!
The first race of the third day of action at Imola was the Tissot Superpole Race, which provided fireworks once more. On a damp but drying circuit, there was drama before the race even started, as Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) missed the warm up lap and was forced to start from pit lane. The 2013 WorldSBK champion had work to do in the early stages.
With the race underway, Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) got the jump from pole position, whilst Race 1 winner Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) went side-by-side with the Welshman, having to wait his turn at Turn 2. Championship leader Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) was third whilst Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) held fourth.
With the race settling down, a mistake from Chaz Davies at the final chicane allowed Rea and Bautista to get ahead of him. Davies now had to put in the hard work all over again, as the reigning champion began to pull out an advantage.
Like in Race 1, a big battle unfolded for fourth place, this time with Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) leading the battle from Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing), Alex Lowes and Haslam, who had once again dropped down the order after a combative couple of laps from the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team riders.
Toprak Razgatlioglu however wouldn’t stay in the fight long, as he began to drop back through the field, with his Superpole Race tyre not able to go the distance. Similarly, Alvaro Bautista, who had also opted for the same compound, began to drop back towards his teammate and with just five laps to go at the second part of Rivazza, Davies squeezed down the inside.
Then, the two dominant forces of WorldSBK in the past four seasons - Rea and Davies – went head-to-head in terms of lap times, right on lap record pace and both having to keep the pace up right until the end. The gap momentarily came down to below a second, but Davies was unable to get on terms with Jonathan Rea, whilst Bautista rode answerless in third position.
Down the field, there were some phenomenal rides, with Tom Sykes rocketing up the order and making short work of those in his sights. Soon, he was ahead of Jordi Torres (team Pedercini Racing) with just one lap to go and his attention turned to toppling Toprak, who was now losing time hand over fist. Another stunning ride was completed by Tommy Bridewell (Team Goeleven), who blitzed through the order on the opening lap to get to 11th place from his row six starting place.
However, at the front, Jonathan Rea took the win, his second of the season and his first in the Tissot Superpole Race. Davies and Bautista came home behind him, whilst Michael van der Mark took his best Imola result. Lowes was back inside the top five, with Leon Haslam placed in sixth. Razgatlioglu was caught but not passed by Sykes, as they finished seventh and eighth respectively, whilst Jordi Torres was ninth. Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) completed the top ten.
Less than a second back, super-substitute Tommy Bridewell was 11th, a stunning ride from the British rider. Wildcard Lorenzo Zanetti (Motocorsa Racing) was in 12th, ahead of Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) Hector Barbera (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) and Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) completing the top15.
With a 73rd victory and a ninth at Imola, Jonathan Rea goes into Race 2 as the rider to beat.
Will he be toppled by the Ducati pairing, who were vanquished in the Tissot Superpole Race? Find out with the WorldSBK VideoPass!
Top six from Tissot Superpole Race, full results here
- Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
- Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati)
- Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati)
- Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team)
- Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team)
- Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)