Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) had to wait until the second race of the day to take his first win in World Superbike, but it was worth the wait as the young rider from Northern Ireland held off the two factory Ducati machines at their home circuit. It was also Honda’s first win this season in WSB.
The 22-year-old rider could well have had two podium visits today, but because of unseasonable local weather Rea ended up having a very dramatic first race, which was started in wet conditions. The track dried as the race went on, making this the first race ever in WSB history to see new flag-to-flag rules brought into play.
Rea, who had qualified a career best second, was forced to start from the back of the grid and face a ride-through after getting a lift back to the pitlane from Ryuichi Kiyonari (Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) when his machine developed a glitch and stopped on the track, as well as having a dispute with the officials when trying to exit pitlane. He took his ride through after fighting into the leading places in the wet, and then he had to come in once more to change to a machine with a dry set-up, losing more time.
Rea still finished a remarkable seventh, and was the first Honda rider home in race one, despite all his issues. Along with most of his team-mates, Rea has now swapped to Öhlins suspension, which he tested for the first time at Magny-Cours only a few days ago.
In race two Rea was in the mix from the start, and took the lead on lap four, relinquishing it in the latter stages and then probing the defences of Michel Fabrizio before making a decisive pass early in the final lap and holding on for an advantage of 0.063 seconds.
Rea’s team-mate Carlos Checa (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) was not too disappointed with 11th in the opener, and was not helped by his machine stalling when changing bikes as the track dried out, an issue that also affected Rea on his changeover. Checa was much more effective in race two, finishing fifth after qualifying on row two. He was only 4.460 seconds from Rea.
After yet another dramatic day of racing, Rea consolidated fourth position in the championship on 167 points, with Noriyuki Haga on 292, race one winner Spies on 244 and Fabrizio on 237.