After heavy overnight rain the second race day at the all new San Juan Villicum circuit threw up even more unknown challenges for KRT riders Rea and Sykes, as did the hot track temperature of over 50°C at the start of the race.
Rea, launching from ninth on the grid after his race one win on Saturday, had to use all his skill to pass his rivals on a new track surface that had one clear racing line. Into second place by lap four, Rea chased down the fast-starting leader Xavi Fores on lap nine and set about recording his unique fifth double winning weekend in succession.
The four time champion was particularly pleased to have won another race from the third row, given that he took ill on Saturday evening and was awake most of the night.
In recording his 55th victory on a Kawasaki, as part of his career record of 70 race wins in all, Rea has now equalled the greatest number of wins scored with a single manufacturer in WorldSBK racing.
Rea’s 16th win of the season has taken him to within one victory of equalling the record of race wins in a single year, with two races remaining at the final round.
For Sykes, race two started in a challenging fashion, going from third on the grid to ninth at the end of the first lap. With a strong overall set-up and a different front tyre choice to suit the hotter conditions of race two, he worked out his best way forward and set competitive lap times right through to the end. He passed several competitors as the race unfolded and he ended up fifth.
After 12 rounds, and with one more to go in two week’s time, Rea has set a personal target to try and beat his own record points total of 556, which he scored last year. Jonathan now has 520 points, Davies 348, Michael van der Mark 324 and Tom – still fourth overall – has 294.
The final championship round at the Losail International Circuit will be held between Thursday the 25th of October and Saturday the 27th of October. The two races will be held under floodlights, as is now traditional at the season finale.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was on the podium on Saturday in Argentina but he gradually slid back from second place on lap three to finish seventh today. Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) overcame his first day disappointment with a battling 12th. Roman Ramos (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) was 13th and Gabriele Ruiu, (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) 14th, scoring two points.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “It is really special to come to a new track, where everyone starts from zero, and be able to take the same kind of results. To be fast in the hot conditions and keep our tyre that was the key to the race. It was probably the hardest race win from the third row of the grid. If I went off line to pass, I could not be creative with my line choices. Everybody was pretty much on the same line so the passes had to be set up a few corners in advance. Once I settled into my rhythm I was able to clock off the lap times and pick off riders one by one. When I got clear track to Fores I tracked him down quite fast, but then there was the matter of passing him. Today has been difficult because I caught some kind of virus last night. I was ill all night from one o’clock until five this morning. It was good to have the race at 4pm because most of the day I have been sleeping in the cabin, regaining energy!”
Tom Sykes, stated: “We are just trying to get our heads round why we are one of the fastest on the track - at Magny Cours, and here in both race one and race two. We have got incredible speed but the start was strange and I struggled with a couple of gear selections anyway. I just got into the dirty part of the track, but that was not the big issue. We ended up down to ninth and then made a recovery. The lap time near the end was very impressive. We changed the front tyre for race two and that took a little bit of getting used to. With the hot conditions I suffered initially, but then got my head around it at the end. Just at the beginning of the race I was not able to get the corner speed. I am disappointed not to be on the podium, if I am being honest. The positive to take is how consistent and fast we are in the last third of the race.”
2018 KRT Rider Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018
2018: Races 24, Wins 16, Podiums 21, Superpoles 2
Career Race Wins: 70 (55 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 133 (91 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 16 (12 for Kawasaki)
Tom Sykes: World Champion 2013
2018: Races: 24, Wins 1, Podiums 7, Superpoles 5
Career Race Wins: 34 (34 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 107 (106 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 47 (47 for Kawasaki)
6 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
4 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017 & 2018)
3 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016 & 2017)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 126 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 378 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 80 – second overall