Jonathan Rea’s amazing 2019 season continued at Laguna Seca with the Ulster rider extending his lead in the World Superbike Championship to 81 points over Alvaro Bautista after his sixth podium in seven days.
With Bautista having a nightmare with the ARUBA.IT Racing Ducati in Sunday’s 25-lap race, a mechanical issue forced the Spaniard into the pits for the third time in as many races.
Rea settled for a safe second behind runaway race winner Chaz Davies on the second ARUBA.IT Racing Ducati and 20 points to extend his championship lead over Bautista to 81 points heading into the summer break.
With only four rounds left in the 2019 championship it is looking good for Rea’s fifth consecutive title.
“For me I’m super satisfied with our weekend because to come here and get two race wins a lap record and a second place I can’t grumble,” said Rea. “The team gave me a great bike and the Kawasaki ZX-10RR was working so good out there.
“We made a small change between the Superpole race and this race and I was struggling a bit to finish the corner but, aside from that, I did the best I could.
“Again, congratulations to Chaz and Ducati and now I’m looking forward to my summer break.
What a weekend for the local rider as not only did he win Sunday’s feature race he also took the earlier restarted eight-lap sprint race with the bonus of knowing Bautista was not on the grid after crashing out of the initial 10-lapper after a coming together with Kawasaki’s Toprak Razgatlioglu.
With Bautista in the medical centre Rea made no mistakes in the eight-lap race and cleared off at the front, leaving Davies over two-and-a-half seconds adrift at the chequered flag with Tom Sykes third.
Rea made the perfect start to his weekend on Saturday as he won his 20th career Superpole before going on to take his eighth race win of the season.
In the opening 25-lap race around the 3.610km long Californian circuit, Rea on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR made a great start leading into turn one from Davies and Bautista.
Davies pushed the Ballyclare rider hard in the opening laps and on lap five the Welsh rider took the lead but ran wide and Rea took over at the front.
Bautista was on the leading pace but lost the front of the Ducati and crashed out. He did remount but finished outside the points.
By the chequered flag, the four-times World champion had stretched his advantage over Davies to five seconds with Toprak Razgatlioglu on the Turkish Puccetti Racing Kawasaki claiming his third podium in as many races.
“The team gave me a good bike and as boring as it is to say, it was a case of ‘make no mistakes, keep hitting my points and make my rhythm’,” said Rea. “Physically, I felt great and I could have ridden the bike all day long.”
Fellow Ulster rider Eugene Laverty made a good return to racing after fracturing both wrists at Imola, qualifying the Go Eleven Panigale V4R Ducati 10th fastest then finishing 11th in the opening race.
His weekend continued with a 14th in the sprint race and an excellent 12th in Sunday’s second 25-lap feature race.