World Superbikes: Jonathan Rea extends title lead over Toprak Razgatlioglu
Jonathan Rea extended his lead in the World Superbike Championship with his sixth Superpole victory in a frenetic race on Sunday at Catalunya in Barcelona.
The race was stopped after three laps when Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and Chaz Davies (Team Go Eleven) were involved in an incident at Turn 11.
Welshman Davies was taken to the medical centre-up for a check-up following the incident and is described as stable and conscious. He suffered a lumbar contusion in the crash and has been transported to Catalunya Hospital for further assessment, while Mahias escaped uninjured.
Razgatlioglu lined up on pole for the re-started five-lap sprint race, with Rea in second place on the front row after the grid was based on riders’ positions at the last timing point when the red flag came out.
On a dramatic opening lap, Razgatlioglu took an early lead but the Pata Yamaha rider was soon shunted back after exchanging passes with Rea, who hit he front and managed to open a slight gap.
Alvaro Bautista moved through to second place on the Team HRC Honda and by the time Razgatlioglu managed to get past the Spaniard, Rea had established a cushion of six tenths of a second.
Razgatlioglu, who was forced out of the lead of Saturday’s wet race with an electrical issues on his R1, gradually began to reel in his Kawasaki rival, closing the gap to 0.2s on the final lap.
However, six-time champion Rea managed to hold on as he closed out his sixth Superpole race victory of the season to increase his title lead to nine points ahead of race two (14:15 BST).
“The rhythm was super-fast over five laps, I went for the soft tyre, so I knew I could push from the beginning,” Rea said.
“The first lap was a bit crazy: I went in T1 and felt like I could brake with everybody else, but then Toprak came screaming through and that took everybody in, and it got very close in there.
“I felt like I was on the outside of him at every corner and he was there , so I couldn’t commit to the apex and I didn’t want to squeeze him. We almost came together on the exit of (turn) seven, through eight, so it was exciting,” added Rea, who was fourth in Saturday’s first race.
“Once I let my heartrate calm down I could do my rhythm and I’m not feeling the best this weekend, I’m breathing pretty heavy, so it was hard work but with clear track I could do what I wanted.
“The guys made a really good change with the bike and I feel we were there.”
Bautista secured his first podium since Aragon last year, while Rea’s KRT team-mate Alex Lowes finished fourth.
Scott Redding earned a point in 15th place after running into the gravel on the opening lap after an incident involving Andrea Locatelli, Kohta Nozane and Lowes at Turn 11.
Rea will start race two from pole and is joined on the front row by Razgatlioglu and Bautista, while Redding will have a mountain to climb on the Aruba.it Ducati from 15th position.