Damage limitation for Jonathan Rea as World Superbike title lead slashed at Most
Jonathan Rea twice finished on the podium at Most in the Czech Republic on Sunday as his lead in the World Superbike Championship was cut to just three points.
The six-time champion held a 37-point advantage going into the sixth round of the series at the weekend, but saw that margin slashed after he failed to finish Saturday’s opening race after crashing twice.
Rea hit back to finish third in the Superpole sprint race, earning a milestone 200th career WSBK podium, and again finished third in race two to score some solid points as he chases a seventh successive world crown.
Turkey’s Toprak Razgatlioglu won race one from Scott Redding and claimed a double with victory in the Superpole race over the Briton, while Redding turned the tables in the final race of the weekend to clinch his third win of the season on the Aruba.it Ducati, with Razgatlioglu crossing the line in second place.
Pata Yamaha rider Razgatlioglu is now right back in the hunt for the title, with reigning champion Rea only three points ahead as the championship reaches the halfway mark.
The Northern Ireland rider said it had been a ‘difficult weekend’ as he admitted he simply did not have the pace to take the fight to Razgatlioglu and Redding.
“Difficult, but I felt like I did okay. I tried my best and the bike was as good as it could be,” Rea said.
“I went with the harder tyre and it didn’t really have grip from the start – I could be there right at the beginning but when those guys clicked another gear I was struggling to go with them.
“I had (Andrea) Locatelli for a few laps but even he wasn’t holding me up and it was I could do to be there.
“So a tough weekend, but we need to be realistic – some weekends we are going to be strong and some weekends will be different – but both Scott and Toprak had great weekends.
“We will try to make a step in Navarra, which is another new track, but we’ve been testing there and I felt quite good at the test and came away fastest, so let’s see what happens.”
Redding won race two by 3.587s from Razgatlioglu, with Rea on his own in third, 12.460s behind the race winner.
Italy’s Locatelli (Pata Yamaha), Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) and Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team) were the top six.
Redding’s victory and brace of runner-up finishes means he has closed the gap to Rea to 50 points as he sits third overall in the standings.
Razgatlioglu won the Superpole race after leading all the way yesterday after Rea’s challenge faded when a he made mistake on the brakes at Turn 1 with three laps to go. The 34-year-old fell into the clutches of Redding, who overtook Rea on the final lap to snatch second place.
Rea, though, celebrated his 200th rostrum afterwards by releasing 200 balloons to mark the feat. His incredible double century of podiums includes 107 wins, 63 runner-up finishes and 30 third positions since he first made it onto the box at Kyalami in South Africa in 2009, finishing third in race two.
“I struggled a bit, riding on my limit just to be there on a new circuit,” Rea said.
“I feel like we found our limits quite early with the bike. When I get into that slipstream I just can’t get forward.”
Locatelli finished fourth, four seconds behind Rea, with Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad) and American Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha) the top six.
Round seven at Navarra in northern Spain will take place from August 20-22.