World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea said it was title rival Chaz Davies’ turn to shine at Imola in Italy, where the Ducati rider won both races to reduce the Ulsterman’s advantage to 35 points at the weekend.
Welshman Davies clawed back 10 points in the championship race on Rea, who twice had the beating of his Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes to claim the runner-up spot.
Rea went into the weekend seeking a fifth straight WSBK victory at Imola, but Davies on the Aruba.it Ducati proved an unbeatable package as he won Saturday’s race by 3.4 seconds and underlined his dominance in race two, completing his double with 4.2 seconds in hand over Rea with Sykes a further four-tenths back in third.
Reigning champion Rea encountered engine braking problems with his ZX-10R in Saturday’s first race and also endured more trouble on Sunday, when he survived a big moment on the exit of the final chicane before losing a few seconds when his Kawasaki cut out on the straight.
“Chaz made a very good first lap and broke me a little bit but then I felt like I was managing the same pace and maybe even faster,” said Rea.
“Then I had a huge moment on the exit of the last chicane. I ran onto the Astroturf, which had held moisture from last night’s rain. A few laps later, when I was in fifth gear and on full gas, my bike just cut out on the straight. I lost two or three seconds in one lap,” he added.
“It fired into life again but it took me a few corners to relax again. It feels like when we can’t win we should finish second and we did that at Imola.
“It is clear now that there are three guys now at the top of the championship. Every dog has his day and today was not ours.”
Behind the top three, Davide Giugliano (Aruba.it Ducati), Leon Camier (MV Agusta) and Alex Lowes on the Pata Yamaha completed the top six.
In Saturday’s race, Althea BMW’s Jordi Torres, Giugliano and Camier filled the main leader board positions behind Davies, Rea and Sykes.
Next race: Sepang, Malaysia, May 13-15.