Relief for Jonathan Rea after near-miss in final race at Motorland Aragon
World Superbike Championship leader Jonathan Rea was relieved to finish as the runner-up in the final race of the weekend at Motorland Aragon in Spain after he was almost wiped out in the early stages.
With tyre choice playing a huge part in the race once more for the riders on the drying track, it was Rea who was holding the lead when he was forced off the track and into the gravel by American Garrett Gerloff, who crashed as he attempted a pass on the Kawasaki rider’s inside.
Rea managed to stay upright and re-joined the race, with Gerloff also picking up his GRT Yamaha and getting going again after the incident.
Last year’s championship runner-up Scott Redding made amends for his costly tyre choice in the Superpole race – when he finished eighth after opting for wets in the mixed conditions – by getting it right this time, with the Aruba.it Ducati rider powering into the distance after gambling on slicks front and rear.
It proved an inspired decision as Redding went on to win by almost 10 seconds from Rea, who secured the runner-up spot by half-a-second after battling with his Kawasaki team-mate Alex Lowes.
Rea, who leads the championship by 12 points from Lowes after round one, said: “I’m just so happy to finish because it was early in the race and he (Gerloff) came through, and the line was quite narrow there.
“He crashed and my instincts just told me to open the gas and try to get away from the bike, but then there was deep gravel and I fully ‘moto-crossed’ it and put weight on the rear to get through it.
“I did what I could with the intermediate and huge kudos to Pirelli because that tyre stayed together, and the bike was working really good today,” he added.
“Of course, the right decision was slicks so fair play to Scott for that but I’m really happy to get out of Motorland with a 1-1-2, and head to Estoril next week.”
BMW Motorrad’s Tom Sykes roared through the field to take fourth after passing team-mate Michael van der Mark, while Toprak Razgatlioglu completed the top six on the Pata Yamaha.
Gerloff eventually took seventh, while championship rookie Jonas Folger was eighth on the Bonovo Racing MGM BMW.
Eugene Laverty, making his 200th start, finished outside the points in 17th on the RC Squadra Corse BMW.
Chaz Davies crashed early on and returned to the pits on the Team Go Eleven Ducati before returning to the race, finishing 19th in the end.
The second round at Estoril in Portugal takes place next weekend from May 28-30.
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