WSBK: Jonathan Rea aiming to stretch title lead at Imola

Kawasaki World Superbike rider Jonathan Rea leads Chaz Davies at Assen.
Kawasaki World Superbike rider Jonathan Rea leads Chaz Davies at Assen.

Jonathan Rea is eager to take full advantage of an important phase in the World Superbike Championship as Imola in Italy hosts round five this weekend.

The Kawasaki rider leads the standings by 45 points from Chaz Davies after making a storming start to the defence of his crown, winning five races out of eight so far and finishing on the podium during every start to claim 181 points from a maximum haul of 200.

Rea, a double winner last time out during a challenging weekend in mixed weather conditions at Assen, has a strong record at Imola, where he won both races in 2015.

The 29-year-old has won five times at Imola in total and is bidding for a fifth straight WSBK victory at the Italian track in race one on Saturday as he focuses on stretching his advantage at the top.

“After the amazing weekend we had in Assen extending our championship lead was great. But it is back to business this week and trying to keep that target in mind during every weekend now - trying to improve our championship position,” Rea said.

“In the past I have had some good results at Imola and some race wins.

As I said recently, it is not just Imola but these next three races are all-important because the races are week-on/week-off. It is important to remain healthy throughout these races and score points.

“The key to the weekend is set-up on Friday. We have seen how critical it has been in Aragon and also Assen with the weather change,” added the Ulster star.

“I have always been really lucky to have a great reception from the Italian fans - I enjoy riding there.

“The culture, the food, the parkland track itself; everything seems nice and the layout is kind of like the tracks I grew up on in the British Superbike Championship.”

The opening race is set to take place at 12pm (BST) on Saturday, with race two at the same time on Sunday.