Reigning WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea of Kawasaki Racing Team (KRT) won his 60th historical victory today at Brno in Czech Republic by beating Ducati Aruba.it’s Marco Melandri and as well as KRT teammate Tom Sykes.
When the FIM Superbike World Championship last graced the flowing hills of the Automotodrom Brno, Rea was a promising 25-year-old with 10 race wins to his name, no world championships, and still very much a diamond in the rough.
The contrast on Saturday was startling, 6 years later, was startling: the KRT rider led a perfect race to take his 6th race win of the season, making him the most successful WorldSBK rider in history with 60 race wins, above the legendary Carl Fogarty’s total of 59.
At the longest track in the season, it was fitting for the action to be more extended than usual. Rea overtook Sykes at the start, but crashes by Jordi Torres of MV Agusta Reparto Corse and Michael Ruben Rinaldi of Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team had forced a red flag and race restart – twice, due to technical issues on the grid.
At the third time of asking, with the race length now down to 16 laps, Sykes defended his position at turn 1, but Rea was in front a couple of turns later, keeping Sykes behind and jetting off.
The Northern Irishman was also helped by the action behind, with Melandri and Pata Yamaha’s Alex Lowes putting Sykes under pressure. Lowes’ teammate Michael van der Mark also joined the fray, swapping positions several times with his teammate in a thrilling battle.
Rea went untroubled from this point forward, leading a composed ride to the finish line. He was the only rider managing laps times under two minutes, keeping a 4-5 second gap from his closest pursuers.
The defending champion has now opened an 81-point gap with Chaz Davies of Aruba.it Racing – Ducati, who struggled to finish the race 8th and sees his championship pursuit become even tougher.
Behind the leader, Melandri finally got the best of Sykes in lap 4, taking his best result since Round 1 with second.
It’s the 5th podium for Melandri at Brno in WorldSBK, and a fantastic comeback after a disastrous Donington weekend. Sykes crossed the line in third, 2 seconds off the Italian.
The rostrum was finally just not close enough for the Yamaha riders, with van der Mark beating Lowes to 4th place. Both men will lead the line in Race 2, a fantastic opportunity to move their personal tussle to the front tomorrow.
A thrilling battle for 6th midway through the race saw Eugene Laverty of Milwaukee Aprilia, emerge triumphant and back into the top positions. He got the best of teammate Lorenzo Savadori, who still managed to beat Davies in the final laps for 7th.
Leon Camier of Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team netted himself another Top-10 finish. Still not 100%, the Brit still managed to come in 9th at the flag, ahead of Toprak Razgatlioglu of Kawasaki Puccetti Racing in 10th, the first independent rider at Brno.
Yonny Hernández riding for Team Pedercini Racing confirmed his good form at the Czech circuit, returning to the WorldSBK paddock in eleventh after missing the UK Round.