After a disappointing Race 2 in Jerez where Kawasaki finished fifth and sixth, the team bounced back to take a dominant victory in Portimao
MOTUL FIM Superbike World Champion’s return to Portugal could not have gone much better for Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) as he claimed a dominant victory in Race 1 of the Motul Portuguese Round from pole position at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve. It was an instant response for Rea as he bounced back from his worst finish for six years with sixth in Race 2 at Jerez; also claiming Kawasaki’s 150th WorldSBK victory.
The five-time Champion was put under pressure in the early stages of the race by Turkish sensation Toprak Razgatlioglu (PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team) but was able to pull out a gap after around five laps of the 20-lap race to claim the dominant victory by more than five seconds as he closed in on Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) in the fight for the Championship.
Discussing the victory, Rea said: “It was a great weekend so far. We arrived and just focussed for the race, knowing it was going to be a hot 20 laps. The work we’ve been doing during the summer ‘pre-season’ has been really good, the bike is working really well in the heat and I was able to understand the level of tyre drop and adjust my position on the bike accordingly. When the gap on the pit board is increasing lap-by-lap, it’s a lot of fun.
“The Pirelli rear tyre stuck really well until the end. I could change the electronics on the bike a little bit to conserve the tyre and make the last laps smoother. I was struggling just a little bit with the front, a combination of losing a little bit of feeling with the front brake as it was coming back to the bar so we’ll work to improve the braking tomorrow and the front stability at the end of the race.”
With the dominance Rea has shown so far, plus knowing where he can improve, Rea will be looking to continue this form into the Tissot Superpole Race and Race 2 on Sunday as he looks to take the lead of the Championship in Portugal. The pressure will come from his rivals as they look to stop Rea’s imposing form.
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