The King returned to the head of the WorldSBK field at Imola, taking an emphatic first win of the season!
Having been defeated for eleven consecutive races, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was back to his formidable best in 2019 as he took his first win of the season in Race 1 at Imola. The Ulsterman rocketed off the line from second on the grid and was leading the field as they approached the Villeneuve Chicane for the first time.
From this point onwards, Rea was not shown a wheel by anyone, as even the WorldSBK championship leader, Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) couldn’t deal with Rea’s onslaught of low 1’46 lap times.
Speaking about his first win of the 2019 season, Rea said: “It is incredible, I really needed that! I talked myself into it pretty much since Assen. The track really suits our bike, we came here last year with a new base setting after the Brno test and I carried good speed all weekend. This year, we came here without panicking and wanted a ‘last year’s base’, albeit this year we have the bigger profile Pirelli tyres. It is clear we have made a step with the bike and of course at this track, I know many little techniques to put into practice.”
Rea has ended the streak of Alvaro Bautista, who was aiming for his twelfth straight win, to go in the record books as the only rider to achieve such a feat. However, Rea’s consistency and determination mean that he now has the upper hand going into Sunday.
With weather looking ominously bad ahead of Sunday, Rea stated: “The forecast looks horrible for tomorrow, I hope it isn’t. For many reasons but also for safety. I haven’t ridden at Imola in the wet so let’s see. We got the job done today and that is what is important.”
Taking his 72nd career victory, Jonathan Rea increases his win tally at the very top of the all-time race wins standings. It is his eighth at the Imola circuit, making him the most successful rider to grace this famed layout in WorldSBK.
Can Rea be stopped on Sunday? Find out with the WorldSBK VideoPass!