The 2018 World Superbike Championship headed to Spain this weekend for round 2 of 13 at the Motorland Aragon circuit.The round began quickly for Aruba.it Racing Ducati’s Marco Melandri, who topped Friday free practice and claimed Superpole at the 3.1-mile circuit. But come race day on Saturday and Sunday, Melandri couldn’t fully capitalize on his pole position.
The Italian, who dominated the opening round at Phillip island in Australia with a double win, claimed fifth in race 1 and third in race 2.This allowed three Brits to dominate the top of the podium. Kawasaki Racing Team’s Jonathan Rea claimed the race-1 win, and was joined on the podium by Ducati’s Chaz Davies and Barni Racing Ducati’s Xavi Fores.Davies redeemed himself in race two, claiming the win ahead of Rea and Melandri.In regards to winners, the opening three rounds of 2018 WorldSBK went as follows:
The series now heads directly to the Assen TT four round four (April 20-22). The three-time reigning WorldSBK Champion Rea has 114 points, 12 ahead of Davies and 18 ahead of Melandri.Following are the official WorldSBK race recaps.
2018 Aragon World Superbike Results, Race 1 Recap
Rea had mixed feelings about his bike throughout Friday and the Saturday Superpole, but in Race 1 of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship Round Three he put to bed any worries he or his team may have had with a dominant performance at MotorLand Aragon. The reigning champion increases his lead to 14 points now, after Melandri could only come in fourth.The race was red flagged after three laps, after a horrible collision involving Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia).The Honda rider appeared to slip on Turn 10, with the other two riders just behind and unable to avoid contact. The Brit was immediately taken to the medical centre for evaluation, while Torres and Savadori exited the track on their own feet, although the Spaniard could not make the restart in time.Before the incident, a wild start had completely turned over the starting grid for Race 1. Poleman Melandri moved down to fifth in lap 1, with Rea taking the lead ahead of Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), up from fifth. Behind them, Davies had made an extraordinary start, coming through from 11th to 4th in just one lap, and beating Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) on the next lap to move into provisional podium positions.After the restart, it was Rea again at the top, leading the first half of the new race bar one lap from Lowes. The champion later found himself under pressure from Fores, who made his move over the Northern Irishman with just 9 laps to go, taking the lead in front of his home fans. But, ultimately, Rea found his moment a couple of laps later, racing away from the Spaniard and taking his second win of the season.The final laps displayed an extraordinary three-way Ducati fight for the podium, between Fores, Melandri, and Davies, up the field again. With Melandri going long with two laps to go, it was a fantastic race to the finish between Davies and Fores, exchanging places throughout the final lap and with the Welshman just squeezing ahead at the checkered flag.Behind them, Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) came in fifth, leaving him in a promising position for Race Two. The British pair of Sykes and Lowes followed in sixth and seventh, with Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team) taking a good eighth position on his WorldSBK debut.At the back, a thrilling battle emerged for ninth, and thus a privileged starting position in Race Two. At the end, it was Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) who came in ahead of the pack, with three more riders less than a second away.
2018 Aragon World Superbike Results, Race 2 Recap
There are very few certainties in the WorldSBK calendar – but a Davies and Rea battle at MotorLand Aragon seems as close as you can get. In a repeat of last year’s Aragon Round, the two leading riders of the championship clashed sensationally in the final laps, with the Welshman avoiding a first Rea double of the season and taking his second win of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, and a record seventh around the Aragon bends.Davies now moves into second place in the Championship standings, just 12 points away from Rea. Behind them, Melandri completes the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati pursuit on 96 points, after taking third in the Spanish Race 2.The race start was similar to yesterday’s affair. Again, it was Rea sticking amongst the Ducatis at the front, with the Panigale R showing incredible pace at the Alcañiz circuit. This time it was Fores and Melandri heading the early laps, with a calculating Rea waiting behind.Just one mistake is enough for the reigning champion to pounce, and as it happened there were two. First a wobble from Melandri (who has had some worrying difficulties controlling the bike throughout the weekend, despite showing very good rhythm) allowed Rea to move up to second.Fores, looking for his first win in front of his passionate local fans, held his provisional lead well under Rea’s pressure – until Lap 9, when his front-end gave in and left the Spaniard on the floor, leaving way for what seemed to be becoming a trademark Rea double.But, with one Ducati rider leaving the leading group, in came another. Chaz Davies didn’t have the amazing start he did in Race 1, but quietly he benefitted from the action at the front to creep up to Rea and Melandri, picking off the Yamahas along the way. He was too far back to greatly trouble Rea in yesterday’s Race 1, his Superpole 2 slip a disadvantage too large to overcome. But on Sunday, with five laps to go and having already overcome his teammate, he got past the Northern Irishman. With the pair coming in close into the final lap and ready for a photo finish, Rea went wide in the middle sector, handing Davies a phenomenal win.Behind them, Lowes and van der Mark came in fourth and fifth, respectively, the Dutchman unable to take advantage of his front row start despite leading in Lap 1.Sykes suffered a nightmare race off the grid, falling from third to eighth at the first turn, with Davies in ninth passing him shortly after. The Brit fought back to sixth at the checkered flag, but will be disappointed at his results throughout the weekend after two front-row starts.Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) came in one better after his debut yesterday, finishing seventh and as the lead independent rider. Behind him Tores came back strongly from yesterday’s crash with Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) and Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), ending the race eighth and pleasing the home WorldSBK fans. Razgatlioglu and Savadori completed the top 10, in ninth and tenth respectively, with the other local rider Roman Ramos (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) finishing 11th.
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.