Rea without rivals
Winner of the two races held on the circuit of Imola, Jonathan Rea once again did brilliantly in Italy. The Championship title-holder increased his overall lead while Tom Sykes returned to the podium.
«It’s certainly my best win of the season. » On Sunday night, Jonathan Rea was thrilled. Winner after setting out ninth on the starting grid, the three-time world champion made a powerful impression again in Italy, quickly catching up with leader Chaz Davies. Second after four laps, Rea took control of the race nine laps later. Then he flew away. At the finish, more than four seconds separated him from the runner-up. The day before, the Kawasaki rider started from pole position and then led from first to last lap. Tom Sykes also shone in Italy. Second Saturday, the former world champion again made it to the podium on Sunday afternoon, this time on the third step. «Despite the engine problems I’m happy with my weekend, » commented Sykes’ teammate on arrival. «We are back in the loop again .» In Supersport, Sofuoglu gave up his last race for fear of another injury even though he had scored the third fastest time during the free practice sessions. Hiraki Okubo crossed the finish line in tenth place.
With a new twin win that brings him closer to a new record, Jonathan Rea is heading for a fourth world championship title. After five races, the Kawasaki rider now has a forty-seven point lead over Chaz Davies. Tom Sykes has gained three places. The Brit has come back to third place in the Superbike overall rankings with one hundred and thirty-seven points. In Supersport, Morais keeps sixteenth place while Japan’s Okubo has gained ten places. He is now eighteenth in the overall classification.
Kenan Sofuoglu finally did not compete in what should have been his one hundred and twenty-sixth and last World Superbike race. Having never completely recovered from his pelvic fractures following his crash at the end of the 2017 season, the five-time world champion decided to retire at the end of the Italian event organized on the Imola circuit. After clocking up the third fastest time in the qualifying session, Sofuoglu gave up the start of what should have been his farewell race. Too many emotions no doubt for the Kawasaki rider. At 33, the Turk is bowing out with a record that is unlikely be equalled in the near future. With five world championship titles, Kenan Sofuoglu made it eighty-five times on the podium, including forty-three times to the highest step. To this can be added his thirty-four pole positions and his one hundred first lines. «Twenty years ago, I started my racing career with the sole aim of riding one day in the world championship,.» Kenan said at Imola. «Since then I have won five titles, which is more than I ever dreamed of doing. It’s time for me to retire, but I did not want to do so without thanking one last time all those who have always been there to encourage and support me.»