WorldSBK Imola, Sunday roundup: World Superbike, World Supersport, WorldSSP300
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) has won Race 2 at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola, equalling Carl Fogarty for the most wins in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship in the process. Victory number 59 came after a stunning battle with Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), who fought off several attacks from the reigning champion before having to settle for second place.
The battle had been anticipated all weekend, but it was Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) who made the early move, flying out from the blocks and taking the lead ahead of Davies. The Welshman kept close behind however, finally making his move at Variante Bassa at the end of lap 3. By then, Rea had made it up to third, and a few bends later, at Tosa, passed Rinaldi and set up the fight.
For nine laps, it was cat-and-mouse game, with barely a tenth of a second separating the two. For several laps, Rea stalked Davies, creeping up and planning his pass. He fired the first shot at Tamburello on lap 10, going wide and allowing Davies back through by the straight. Shot two came at Tosa two laps later, and it couldn’t have been closer. Rea found the pace he needed around Tosa, but Davies took the inside line. The pair touched, Rea went wide, and the Ducati stayed in front.
It was third time lucky for Rea, however, one lap later, at the entry to Variante Alta. From there on, the fired-up reigning champion put on an incredible display, giving Davies no chance to even answer back, and increasing the lead to four seconds by the checkered flag.
Behind the flying duo was Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), completing an all-British duo for the first time this season. Sykes had a beautiful battle with Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) throughout the race, finally managing to make it past the Spaniard, who finished fourth, with three laps to go.
Before that, Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), who had been contending for that final podium place, came together on lap 10 around Rivazza. The pair collided and ended up on the gravel, neither man able to return.
Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) scored his best result of the season with a scintillating fifth place finish, after starting on Row 4. One place behind him on the grid and finally at the flag, Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) came in sixth, equalling his best Imola result.
Rinaldi also equalled his Race 1 result in seventh. The Italian was unable to keep up his initial pace, but comes out of the Pata Italian Round with his best return over two races in WorldSBK. He beat Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) to the flag, also matching his best WorldSBK result.
In ninth, Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) made his return from injury a successful one. Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura), closed the top ten, with one of his best performances of the season.
It took Jules Cluzel (NRT) a year and a half to find his way back to the top before Assen. For win number 2, it has taken just 21 days, as the French rider won his second consecutive race of the 2018 FIM Supersport World Championship season. The Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola witnessed a thrilling fifth race of the year, with Italian pair Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) and Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) in second and third.
Things got emotional early at Imola. Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), who was third on the grid, decided at the last moment to not take part in what was supposed to be his final race. The WorldSSP legend climbed on his Kawasaki ZX-6R one last time, led the field one lap around the track, and headed into the pits. A final bow, on his terms, from an inimitable champion.
Of course, there was still a race left at Imola – and perhaps as a tribute to Kenan’s career, it was an electric, drama-filled affair. Right from the start, five riders shot out ahead, with Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) protecting his lead from Cluzel and Caricasulo. The reigning champion defended brilliantly until lap 6, when a slip at Rivazza left him tumbling down to 20th.
The now-front four led with blistering pace, tenths of a second amongst themselves but double figures with the rest. Caricasulo, fighting to hang on after a mistake in lap 7, managed to overtake Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) and De Rosa in the closing stages, but Cluzel proved to be just that inch too fast, racing ahead and meeting the checkered flag, with the Italian in second.
De Rosa managed to put his MV Agusta onto the podium for the second race in a row. The rider in red has grown into the championship, and adds another name to an already stacked front-end. Cortese, meanwhile, finished fourth, just 0.084 seconds off.
Behind the leading four, Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) managed to climb through from 11th on the grid and becomes the new championship leader, on 81 points. Anthony West (EAB antwest Racing) made a triumphant return from injury with sixth place, while Mahias, in full-damage limitation mode, was beaten to seventh by Niki Tuuli (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) by just one thousandth of a second. The Frenchman relinquishes his championship lead, but remains just two points behind Krummenacher. Most importantly, however, the distance between first and fifth is now down to just 12 points.
Completing the top ten, Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) came in ninth, scoring valuable points to keep him in touching distance with the front riders, while Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) finished the race in tenth.
Ana Carrasco (DS Junior Team) has taken her first win of 2018 and second of her FIM Supersport 300 World Championship career at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola, with the most dominant display of the season so far. Incredibly fast all weekend, the Spaniard also becomes the new championship leader after three races, after Scott Deroue (Motoport Kawasaki) crashed out in the final lap.
Right from the start, Carrasco gave no option to her rivals, shooting out from the lights. The DS Junior rider had shown in yesterday’s Superpole how comfortable she is riding alone around Imola, and it showed here: by the end of lap 1 she was a whole 2 seconds ahead, and by the end had opened a 13 second gap with the rest.
With the Murcian so far ahead, the usual scrap to the line continued for second, with eight riders fighting for two podium places down to the end. Deroue was the only rider to bow out before the end, losing his front end at Acque Minerali when he was second.
The Dutchman out of the fight, it was Borja Sánchez (ETG Racing) making it a Spanish one-two with his first podium finish of the campaign. Sánchez had come in just behind wildcard Kevin Sabatucci (PROGP Racing), but in a twist of fate, the Italian was sanctioned with one position by Race Direction (last year Sánchez had his third place demoted to fourth after the flag). Still, the Italian managed a fantastic third on his WorldSSP300 debut.
Behind them, Luca Grunwald (Frendenberg KTM WorldSSP Team) continued his good form with fourth place, with Galanig Hendra Pratama (BIBLION YAMAHA MOTOXRACING) taking fifth. Jan-Ole Jähnig (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team) finished in sixth position, with Maria Herrera (BCD Yamaha MS Racing) scoring her best finish in WorldSSP300, climbing up from 19th on the grid to seventh.