Jonathan Rea produced two outstanding motorcycle racing rides in the sixth round World Superbike championship races at Kyalami in South Africa to take fifth and second place finishes.
The two World SBK races were won by Michel Fabrizio and Leon Haslam in front of a large, sun-drenched and enthusiastic crowd.
Starting from the third row of the grid, Rea began race one impressively, moving up to sixth on the opening lap before a lack of grip dropped him to ninth place.
However, the 23-year-old was able to maintain consistent times throughout the race and he fought his way back to fifth in the closing laps, including one thrilling move around the outside of both James Toseland and Leon Camier at turn 12.
With a slightly harder rear spring in his Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR for the second outing, Rea charged into second place on the first lap and snatched the lead from Haslam on lap two. The Northern Irishman was able to hold Haslam and Max Biaggi at bay unti l Haslam made his winning move on the penultimate lap.
Rea’s Hannspree Ten Kate Honda teammate, Max Neukirchner, suffered from further chatter problems over Kyalami’s severe bumps and, despite an improvement to the bike for race two, was only able to post 19th and 17th place finishes.
Jonathan Rea (5th and 2nd) says: "I got a good start in the first race but just couldn’t hold the other guys as I didn’t find any grip. But even when I dropped down to ninth with quite a gap in front, I didn’t give up on a single corner or a single straight. I was able to maintain pretty consistent laps which allowed me to catch and pass the others at the end. We made a small change for race two and then I got a blinding start. From there I found it easy to go to the front but it was really difficult to make a break. In the end, Haslam made a lunge and I had to settle for second. All in all, I would have taken your arm off if you’d offered me those results this morning and I’d like to thank the team for keeping my spirits up – it wasn’t looking too clever after warm-up. I’m really looking forward to Salt Lake City now that we’re back on the podium."
Max Neukirchner (19th and 17th) says: Race one was just a continuation of the problems we’ve have had all weekend but we were able to improve the bike a little for a better feeling in the second race. However, I still couldn’t push hard enough to pass the guys in front of me. Over the last few laps, we also had a bit of a problem with weight transfer on the bike, which we also had in race one. Now we have to hope we have learned something that we can take to Miller in America, which I missed last year, but I got two podium finishes there in 2008.
Ronald ten Kate (WSBK Team Manager) says: "Well, it’s been an interesting day – that’s the very least we can say! We knew we had a good race pace with Jonathan but in race one he just lacked the outright speed for the opening laps. He had to fight his way through and, for most of the second half of the race he was the fastest guy on the track. His strategy of immediately taking the lead in race two was a bit of a surprise to everyone in the garage, but it worked out well!. Kyalami was where he took his first Superbike podium last year, which really kick-started his season, but we have to be strong in every single race now if we are to close the gap on the leaders. Max had more problems today – problems that have plagued him all weekend here. We know it’s a difficult circuit to get right though, so we’ll move on to Miller, where we know our bike can work well."
2010 World Superbike championship – round six – Kyalami, South Africa (4.263km – 24 laps) – results
World SBK Race One:
1. Michel Fabrizio (ITA) Ducati 39’48.343s
2. Carlos Checa (ESP) +1.098s
3. Leon Haslam (GBR) Suzuki +5.049s
4. Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia
5. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Hannspree Ten Kate Honda +13.710s
19. Max Neukirchner (GER) Hannspree Ten Kate Honda
World SBK Race Two:
1. Leon Haslam (GBR) Suzuki 39’52.870s
2. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Hannspree Ten Kate Honda +0.522s
3. Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia +0.601s
4. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Yamaha +0.991s
17. Max Neukirchner (GER) Hannspree Ten Kate Honda
WSBK Championship points after six of 13 rounds: 1 Haslam 222, 2 Biaggi 207, 3 Rea 141, 4 Checa 141, 5 James Toseland (GBR) Yamaha 125, 6 Noriyuki Haga (JPN) Ducati 106
Next round: Miller Motorsport Park, USA – 29-31 May