WORLD SUPERBIKES: Highs and lows for Jonathan Rea at Laguna Seca

Jonathan Rea celebrates his victory in race one at Laguna Seca.
Jonathan Rea celebrates his victory in race one at Laguna Seca.

Jonathan Rea’s delight turned to disappointment when the World Superbike champion was forced out of race two at Laguna Seca in the USA.

Rea had clinched his maiden victory at the legendary circuit in California on Saturday to extend his championship lead to 71 points over his Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes, but a rare retirement on his Ninja ZX-10R allowed Yorkshireman Sykes the opportunity to claw back some ground.

And he took full advantage, closing out victory to reduce Rea’s title gap to 46 points heading into the summer break.

Ulsterman Rea had made a stunning move from third place into first at the top of the Corkscrew as he passed Davide Giugliano and Sykes, only to slip back to second place on the drive out of the famous section of the circuit behind Sykes.

Rea, though, hit straight back as he grabbed the lead again after gaining superior drive out of the first corner at the start of the fourth lap.

The 29-year-old then ran wide onto the gravel and dropped back to 11th place before he eventually stopped with an apparent technical problem.

Sykes was left in the lead and narrowly held off a determined attack from Aruba.it Ducati pair Giugliano and Chaz Davies, with Xavi Fores on the Barni Ducati, Nicky Hayden (Honda World Superbike Team) and Althea BMW’s Jordi Torres the top six.

In Saturday’s opening race, Rea claimed his career victory at Laguna Seca after overcoming a fierce challenge from Sykes.

After inheriting the lead when Davies crashed on lap six, Rea relinquished his position after running wide at the Corkscrew with six laps to go.

However, he fought back to catch and pass Sykes once more and pulled clear to seal a landmark win at the iconic circuit.

It was another blow to Sykes’ fading title hopes, with the 2013 champion twice having to play second fiddle to Rea at the previous round at Misano in Italy.

Hayden completed the top three, fending off a last-corner attack by team-mate Michael van der Mark.

Afterwards, Rea admitted he had won ugly after making a number of errors during the race.

“I am super happy to have won here. I am happy with the result but it was, honestly, not my most beautiful race because I made quite a lot of mistakes,” he said.

“I am sure when I watch it back I will be quite upset with myself but the most important thing is the 25 points for winning. That is good for everything – for the morale of the team and the championship.”

The World Superbike Championship now enters an extended summer break, resuming again at Lausitzring in Germany from September 16-18.