After facing one of his toughest challenges yet, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) has secured another stunning feat, taking his fourth consecutive MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship title by a sensational 130 points at France’s Magny-Cours ovennight.
Rea sliced past teammate Tom Sykes in the early stages of Saturday’s race one and imperious from there to snap victory number 13 of the year. Sykes took second from his record-breaking pole, with Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) completing the podium after a three-way fight for third. (see full race report below).
At 31 years of age, the racer from Ballymena in Northern Ireland is continuing to make history with the unstoppable combination of his racing talent and the ZX-10RR. Australia has a part claim to the affable rider, with the four-time champ married to Phillip Island’s Tatia Rea. They have two young sons and return each off-season to their Phillip Island home for a summer break.
Since joining Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK in 2016, Rea has been a winning machine, taking four back to back world titles and 52 victories in four seasons.
Making history in 2018 by breaking the overall victory record of 60 wins in WorldSBK with a race one victory at Brno, he has now become only the second rider to take four titles in the world’s fastest production based motorbike championship, and the first to do so consecutively.
2018 has proven to be his biggest challenge yet, as himself and his Provec Racing squad have been working around the new regulations which were introduced this season – aiming to create more parity throughout the class. Adding extra challenges, Rea took it all in his stride, despite a tough opening round at Phillip Island which saw him hindered by the flu and a pre-season finger injury. Leaving Australia with a top five and second position finish, he was ready to bounce back in Thailand.
Chang International Circuit was the setting for the second round of the season, and Rea was back to his best in race one – taking the victory by 1.5s after a strong fight from Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) and Chaz Davies’ (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) Panigale R machines. However race two threw up some challenges, as his Ninja machine had some brake issues in the Thai heat meaning he could only secure a top four finish. Leading the championship charge as the series headed to Europe, there was never a doubt Rea was the man to beat.
Beginning what was set to be an intense part of the season, the British rider once again took the victory in race one as the series took on MotorLand Aragon in a stunning performance. But the reversed grid rules offered a challenge to Rea in race two, and he was unable to match Davies’ pace as he took second position in Spain.
With the championship heading straight to TT Circuit Assen for a back to back race weekend, Rea was ready to take on his new crown as the King of Assen. With a stunning record around the Dutch circuit, a win in race one meant he was the most successful rider at Assen. But he was unable to stop team-mate Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in race two, after the British rider put on a stunning performance.
Taking on Ducati territory at Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrai di Imola for round five, Rea found his time to shine in 2018. Taking a double victory around the notoriously tight and twisty track, he also secured his 59th WorldSBK win and got one step closer to the overall win record. Stunning with his pace around the technical Italian circuit, he was able to leave Imola with a 47 point championship lead and on the verge of making more history.
Welcoming a return to his home turf of Donington Park, Rea had a more difficult weekend in Leicestershire – suffering from arm pump. Unable to hold off the stunning pace from debut winner Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), Rea left the United Kingdom with a second and third position finish but an extension of his championship lead. Determined to be back on top in round seven, Automotodrom Brno was a weekend of ups and downs in Rea’s title chase. Experiencing ecstasy in race one, with his 60th victory to secure him the overall win record in WorldSBK, he saw heartbreak in race two with his first DNF of the season following a coming together with his team-mate.
But off the back of his DNF, he went onto win four races in a row. Stunning under the Californian sunshine of Laguna Seca, Rea was untouchable around the fast and flowing circuit and he looked to be riding his ZX-10RR on rails. Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli was the setting for round nine, and the round before the summer break. Important to enter the break off the back of a strong weekend, Rea was once again unstoppable with his team and he took a stunning double victory, although had to work for it in race two.
After nine weeks away from racing action, the Nolan Portuguese Round welcomed a sensational return to action for Rea, and he was able to secure his third consecutive double victory in Portugal. On top of this, it was his fifth and sixth consecutive victory in 2018 and he now had one hand on the world title after a sweltering weekend at the undulating track.
Returning to the scene of the track which saw Rea take his 2017 crown, Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours took on another huge importance for the Northern Irishman. But he was on such a roll heading to France, it was hard to see anyone stopping him, and no one did. Rea was crowned world champion in France for the second season in succession, writing even more history as he takes a sensational fourth back to back title.
Congratulate Jono with: #RE4CH4MP
WorldSBK Race One: Rea takes the win and title no 4 in style
Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) took the 2018 WorldSBK crown in style at France’s Magny Cours, slicing past teammate Tom Sykes in the early stages of Saturday’s race one and imperious from there to snap victory number 13 of the year. Sykes took second from his record-breaking pole, with Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) completing the podium after a three-way fight for third.
It was Sykes who got the holeshot from pole, getting a lightning start and leaving teammate Rea to trail him in second – albeit in very close company. Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) kept his P3 from the front row as they shot off the line, with Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) slotting into fourth as the field made their way around lap one. But Rea remained threatening in second and feinted a number of moves, before the reigning champion pounced for the lead not long after.
Just off the fight at the front, Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) took an early tumble, followed not long after by a DNF for Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team) in the same mid top ten group. Rea pulled away from Sykes as Fores hustled past Savadori and took over in third, but the Italian stayed close and Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) began to hone in on that battle.
Rea crossed the line for win number 13 of the season and his fourth crown in style, with Sykes just behind his teammate in another impressive 1-2 for Kawasaki. Fores was able to fight off Savadori, and both just stayed ahead of Davies by the flag. Davies needed to finish second to stop Rea taking the crown, but after a mid top ten qualifying and still recovering from a broken collarbone, it was a tall order. The Welshman nevertheless put together an impressive ride in difficult circumstances – much like his races in Portugal. His teammate Marco Melandri, after a tough qualifying, moved through from p12 on the grid to take sixth.
Seventh went to Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) as he moved up from tenth on the grid, getting past Toprak Razgatliouglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) at mid-distance and steadily pulling away from the Turk, who came home in P8. Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW) had been fighting him in the latter stages but couldn’t make it stick, and just at the end was pipped to ninth by Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia).
Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) took P11, ahead of Jordi Torres in P12 for MV Agusta Reparto Corse.
Four titles in a row, 13 race wins this season and two rounds still to go make for another amazing season for world champion and part-time Aussie, Jonathan Rea
WorldSBK Race 1 Results: 1. Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki 2. Xavi Fores – Ducati 3. Lorenzo Savadori – Aprilia
WorldSBK Race Two: No easing off for world champion Jonathan Rea as he scores his fourth consecutive double in France
Despite being crowned 2018 Superbike World Champion Saturday – his fourth title victory and another history making mark – Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea was far from taking an early vacation. Rea was back in action Sunday at France’s Magny Cours taking another win and sealing his fourth double on the trot. The Northern Irishman has now made it eight consecutive victories in a row, matching the best WorldSBK winning streak since Troy Bayliss in 2006.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) started from second on the grid and immediately grabbed the holeshot, powering away from Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), while race two polesitter Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) quickly fell down the order. But inside just half a lap Rea had already managed to climb into third position and set his sights on the race lead, eventually managing to outpace van der Mark at the Imola chicane in lap 3.
Davies leading, Rea in hot pursuit – the same scenario we’ve witnessed countless times across the years, and as recently as race two in Portimao. Even with an unassailable margin of points separating them in the standings, the pair fought as fiercely as ever. Rea singled out the Adelaide hairpin as the point to make his pass, but lap after lap the moment didn’t come, the Welshman forcing his Ducati in front on the exit every time, with the Kawasaki rider twice running in too hot. But then Davies opened the door in lap 12 through turn 9, and Rea emphatically put his foot in, flying into the race lead. With an open track ahead, the KRT rider was just too strong to match, with Davies crossing the line in second and van der Mark putting his R1 onto the podium again in third.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) couldn’t return to the rostrum after his P2 yesterday, but the move he put over Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) with one lap on the clock did net him P4 in race two, with the Italian following behind and completing the top five.
Savadori managed to steady his pace after a few dubitative opening laps and claimed sixth place, closing off his best weekend of the season. Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) crossed the line in seventh and saves some points from a mostly disappointing weekend, with Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) in eighth and as the top independent rider.
Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) returns to the top ten for the first time since his injury in July, leaving Magny-Cours with a P9, with hometown boy Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team) closing out the top ten. Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) crossed the line in 11th, with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in 12th.
WorldSBK Race 2 Results: 1. Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki 2. Chaz Davies – Ducati 3. Michael van der Mark – Yamaha
WorldSBK Championship Standings
1. Jonathan Rea – 470 points (Kawasaki) 2. Chaz Davies – 335 points (Ducati) 3. Michael van der Mark – 309 points (Yamaha) 4. Tom Sykes – 273 points (Kawasaki) 5. Marco Melandri – 250 points (Ducati)
WorldSSP: Cluzel out-battles Cortese to win on home soil
Frenchman takes fourth win of the season, with Championship leader and Mahias completing the podium.
Jules Cluzel (NRT) secured his fourth win of the season at France’s Magny-Cours as the Frenchman took a controlling victory to beat championship rival and second place Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing), with fellow countryman Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) third on the rostrum as teammate and pole man Federico Caricasulo crashed out on the final lap.
It was Mahias who grabbed the holeshot as the lights went out from second on the grid as he and Cluzel made it an immediate French 1-2 at the front, before the latter took the lead heading into Turn 5 on the opening lap. Further back, Championship leader Cortese didn’t get off to the best start but the German rider soon found his rhythm to reel in the leaders a couple of laps later, making his way up to P2 after consecutive passes on Mahias and Caricasulo at the Adelaide hairpin.
The four leaders had broken clear from home rider Corentin Perolari (GMT94 Yamaha) at the mid-stage of the race, with Cluzel still holding P1 from Cortese before the 2012 Moto3™ World Champion made a move down into Turn 5. The Kallio Racing rider couldn’t make it stick though, but that didn’t stop the German trying it again a lap later, but the same happened – Cluzel getting the better exit to hold station. It was rinse and repeat for the duo a lap later as the two leaders in the Championship brilliantly fought for French honours.
Heading into the final lap, Cluzel had managed to get his head down to edge out a 0.7 advantage at the front, with Cortese suffering from front tyre wear which left him firmly in the clutches of the two GRT bikes behind. Then, late drama surfaced. Fourth place Mahias went for a pass into Turn 14 on teammate Caricasulo, the latter running a slightly wider line and losing the front trying to defend his position – hugely detrimental for the Italian’s title aspirations, who remounted to claim P13.
This left Cluzel to claim his fourth win of the season as the gap in the Championship between him and first place Cortese now stands at 11 points with two races remaining – Mahias claimed a home podium, his first since Thailand. Thomas Gradinger (NRT) was fourth as he continues to impress in his rookie WorldSSP season, with Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) completing the top five after a difficult race. Sixth was home rider Perolari, a great race for the Frenchman after battling with the leaders in the opening exchanges, with Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) crossing the line seventh – the Italian losing ground in the Championship.
After his podium in Portugal, Kyle Smith (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) could only manage eighth in France, with Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) getting the better of teammate Hector Barbera – P9 and P10 respectively for the Kawasaki paring.
The title race remains tight as the paddock heads off to Argentina for a brand-new challenge – who will emerge victorious as Cortese and Cluzel go head-to-head once again.
WorldSSP Race Results: 1. Jules Cluzel – Yamaha 2. Sandro Cortese – Yamaha 3. Lucas Mahias – Yamaha
WorldSSP Championship Standings
1. Sandro Cortese – 169 points (Yamaha) 2. Jules Cluzel – 158 points (Yamaha) 3. Randy Krummenacher – 140 points (Yamaha) 4. Federico Caricasulo – 132 points (Yamaha) 5. Raffaele De Rosa – 128 points (MV Agusta)