WorldSBK, Imola: Saturday roundup – Superbike race 1, Supersport qualifying
A stunning performance from Aruba.it rider Chaz Davies saw him take a comfortable victory in Race 1 at Imola, as Kawasaki pairing Rea and Sykes were left to fight it out for the other podium positions.
It was Davies and Rea who got the best starts from the front row of the grid, with Davide Giugliano struggling most as his teammate and the KRT riders got past him at the start of the race. With Davies leading the charge to escape, it was left to Rea, the only man seeming able to stay in touch with the Ducati rider, to try and chase him down.
With ten laps remaining, the reigning Champion ran wide at Turn 1 and the gap to teammate Sykes suddenly closed, with the KRT riders facing another inter-team battle as the Yorkshireman tried to stay in touch. Rea however managed to recover his rhythm and hold off his teammate to the line to minimize the damage in the Championship after a close challenge on the last lap.
Jordi Torres, who scored his first WorldSBK podium at Imola in 2015, had a stunning run for P4 on his Althea BMW machine at the team’s home race, ahead of second Aruba.it Racing – Ducati rider Davide Giugliano. Leon Camier, after a race of some ups and downs, crossed the line in sixth for another fantastic haul of points for home manufacturer MV Agusta.
Lorenzo Savadori on the Aprilia ran in the top 5 throughout the first part of the race, before the rookie succumbed to the pressure of riders behind. Michael van der Mark, after a difficult Superpole 2, was the winner of the battle for P7 and headed Savadori over the line, who saw the chequered flag in P8 just ahead of Imola rookie Nicky Hayden on the second Honda. Xavi Forés made up ground in the Race on his Barni Racing Team Ducati to lock out the top ten, just ahead of Alex Lowes after a difficult weekend for the Pata Yamaha squad.
Baiocco, Reiterberger, Brookes and DeAngelis completed the points scoring positions, with DeAngelis still suffering with an injury to his left hand at the Round closest to home for the San Marinese rider.
After losing some ground to Davies in Race 1, Jonathan Rea will be aiming for victory number 6 at Imola on Sunday in Race 2, where he has another chance to overtake Carlos Checa as most successful at the Italian track. Davies and Ducati are sure to put up at fight as the lights go out at 13:00 local time (GMT +2).
WorldSBK – Imola Race 1
1. Chaz Davies, Aruba.it Racing – Ducati
2. Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team +3.406
3. Tom Sykes, Kawasaki Racing Team +3.729
After a slight delay to the start of the Tissot-Superpole qualifying sessions for World Supersport after an earlier stoppage in WorldSBK, Roberto Rolfo on his MV Agusta was the initial pacesetter in Superpole 1, leading FIM Europe Supersport cup rider Axel Bassani riding for home team San Carlo Team Italia. Local rider Alex Baldolini, after a good showing of pace on Friday, then took over the final graduation spot to Superpole 2 before the last fast laps of the session saw times tumble and Zulfahmi Khairuddin take the top spot. It was the Malaysian rider who went through to Superpole 2 as the fastest, alongside Alex Baldolini after the Italian improved his lap time to beat Nico Terol and Assen winner Kyle Smith for the final place in the second session.
A further delay due to track conditions saw Superpole 2 delayed a few more minutes, before bikes headed out on track to fight for the grid placements for the Race on Sunday. After Kawasaki Puccetti Racing rider Sofuoglu set the pace for much of the weekend, the Turkish rider continued to top the timesheets throughout the majority of the Superpole 2 session, until MV Agusta Reparto Corse rider Jules Cluzel put in a final push for the front and took provisional pole with little of the session remaining. With Sofuoglu pushed down to second, the Turk was unable to improve and will start the Race from P2. Honda rider PJ Jacobsen locked out the front row in P3 to get his title back on track, and points leader Randy Krummenacher put in an impressive rookie performance to take P4 and head up the second row.
Pole sitter Jules Cluzel’s MV Agusta Reparto Corse Italian teammate Lorenzo Zanetti was the quickest Italian rider, heading Ayrton Badovini, Federico Caricasulo and Alex Baldolini in a great show of Italian talent in the top 10. Assen podium finisher Gino Rea came home in P9 for GRT Racing Team, ahead of Jezek, Khairuddin and ESS rider Alessandro Zaccone for home team San Carlo Team Italia.
The lights go out for the WorldSSP Race on Sunday at 11:20am local time (GMT +2), for another stunning Supersport showdown.