World SBK Imola 2015 Commentary
The Jonathan Rea juggernaut continues unabated. He scored another double win on this Kawasaki Racing Team Ninja ZX-10R, though his teammate Tom Sykes - the 2013 SBK Champion - had the next best possible finish — two seconds. Let’s see how the grid is doing after the Acerbis Italian round at Imola before the series heads to Donnington in the UK for round six.
World SBK Imola 2015 Upside
Jonathan Rea - Kawasaki Racing Team Ninja ZX10-R: The Upside can’t get much more up for Rea. He has eight wins and two seconds in 10 starts this year. Rea was hunting down teammate Tom Sykes in Race 1 before it was red flagged. On the restart, it only took a bit over two laps for Rea to pass Sykes and take another win. Rea didn’t even let Sykes and the rest of the field dream in Race 2. He led every lap and was simply dominating. Leaving Imola, Rea is up by a staggering 87 points over runner up Leon Haslam.
Tom Sykes - Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R: Yes, he was convincingly beat by Rea in both races, but don’t overlook that Sykes has only had two podiums (both 3rd place finishes) coming into Imola. Taking a pair of 2nds is a huge step up (he scored 13 more points at Imola than any other round this year), and he did hang with Rea for a while. Sykes moves into 3rd in the standings following a disastrous weekend for Chaz Davies.
David Giugliano - Aruba.it Racing- Ducati SBK Team Panigale R: Returning from an injury that has made this his first round of the season, Giugliano thrilled the locals by taking pole position. No, he couldn’t hold it, but he had two lonely finishes -- 3rd in Race 1 and a fourth in Race 2.
He finished on the overall podium and it will be interesting to watch his progression and see if he can mount a challenge to Rea for a win. Giugliano certainly thinks he can: “I’m really pleased with the podium, which on a personal level is like a win for me. After the first ‘heat’ I was already tired and the second part of the race was extremely difficult; I couldn’t have done any more. I was undecided as to whether to do Race 2 at all, as the first race really wore me out. But, thanks to the Clinica Mobile’s help and the support of all the fans here, I was actually able to complete race 2, in fourth place. We have a high performing bike and, once I’m back to full fitness, I know we’ll be competitive.”
Jordi Torres - Aprilia Racing Team - Red Devils RSV4 RF: Okay, so he ran off the track due to gearbox problems in Race 1. That wouldn’t be much of an Upside, but scoring his first World Superbike podium in Race 2 is something for the popular rookie from Moto2 to celebrate.
World SBK Imola 2015, Downside
Chaz Davies - Aruba.it Racing- Ducati SBK Team Panigale R: Dogged by technical issues in both races, Davies scored a grand total of zero points at Imola. That dropped him to fourth in the standings (with three fellow Brits ahead), and put him 117 points back of leader Rea. “A disastrous day for us obviously,” a dejected Davies said. “We were in a position to be able to complete two good races here today, but instead, we go home with nothing.”
Leon Haslam - Aprilia Racing Team - Red Devils RSV4 RF: The fourth in Race 1 was okay, but a nasty highside at Tamburello in Race 2 that left Haslam with three cracked ribs is definitely a Downside. “It was a big highside,” Haslam said.
“We had issues the whole race; I ran off track three or four times and had a coming together with Michael. I was really struggling with the last part of corner entry. Basically, I was pushing too hard and had a big, big highside. It was one of the biggest I’ve had, so I’m pretty happy that I managed to get up. The (left) thumb is a little sore and I have three cracked ribs, but nothing is displaced or majorly broken. My ribs are quite sore at the minute, but other than that I’m okay. I was winded in the gravel, and I’ll be sore for a few days, but we have two weeks off before Donington, so I should be good.”
Sylvain Guintoli - Pata Honda World Superbike Team CBR1000RR SP: A forgettable year for the defending World Champion just keeps getting worse. Known for his consistency, Guintoli crashed out of Race 2 on for the second time in three meetings, this time on the first lap.
The fifth in Race 1 tied his season’s best finish (he also had fifths in Australia and Thailand), and wasn’t bad considering he qualified 15th. However, these are not the results you expect of a rider with #1 on his plate. In his favor, his chin is still up: “We’ll take the positives and the fighting spirit from Race 1 and move forward at Donington Park, which is like a home race for me.”
Michael van der Mark - Pata Honda World Superbike Team CBR1000RR SP: The Magic is wearing off this year. Imola was his worst round of the year, netting him just seven points over two races. He picked the wrong tire for the six-lap restart in Race 1, and went down after tangling with Leon Haslam in Race 2.
Like his teammate, van der Mark puts on a brave face: “The start of Race 2 was not too bad and I was able to make up some places in the first corner. I moved forward and passed Leon [Haslam] and had a nice fight with Torres. Leon wanted to pass, but he hit me and I crashed. I was really disappointed with that because, if you look at the end, Torres got to the podium and, for sure, a 4th or even a 3rd place might have been possible.”