Reigning WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea left Imola’s WorldSBK round with 40 points and an increase in his championship lead despite a huge mistake on lap one which dropped him from third to sixth - and behind fierce rival Chaz Davies.
Rea went in to Variante Bassa too hot, ran over the gravel which allowed Marco Melandri, Xavi Fores and Davies through, and gave the Welshman the breathing space he needed to get into the 1’46s, catch leader Tom Sykes and take a double victory as Rea bagged second.
“The position I don’t think could have been too much better. We halved the gap to Chaz from race one, which is really positive, but unfortunately I made a huge mistake in the chicane on lap one. I went straight over the gravel and that lost all my track position, and all the work I had done in that first lap,” said Rea, speaking at the track.
“When Chaz went through on Tom, I got stuck behind him a little bit and the laptime dropped but when I got through, I managed to keep a good rhythm. We changed the bike quite a lot between races with some positives.
“We also changed the front tyre, which was a little more squashy on the sides and that took away some confidence but all in all to leave Imola with 40 points and increase the championship lead is a solid weekend at not one of our strongest tracks.”
Rea had made serious progress through the field on the first lap of the re-start but said it was difficult because there are only a couple of passing places and the cement dust put down after Ayrton Badovini’s bike went pop made it all the more difficult to make moves.
“The grid format makes it difficult to gain track position and encourages a lot of aggressive riding. I tried to make some passes work but difficult at a track like Imola which is very one-line. All the oil from Variante Alta to Rivazza one was completely on the line.
“I was trying inside and outside the cement dust, and it was lethal when I went over it so that compromised everyone’s lap time but I am glad we were able to put on a show for the Italian fans.”