WSBK BRNO : Race1: Unstoppable Rea grabs sweet sixtieth win at Brno / Race2: Phenomenal Lowes leads Yamaha one-two at Brno
Reigning champion triumphs in Czech return and opens 81-point gap in title battle
When the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship last graced the flowing hills of the Automotodrom Brno, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was a promising 25-year-old with 10 race wins to his name, no world championships, and still very much a diamond in the rough. The contrast on Saturday was startling, six years later, was startling: the KRT rider led a perfect race to take his sixth race win of the season, making him the most successful WorldSBK rider in history with 60 race wins, above the legendary Carl Fogarty.
At the longest track in the season, it was fitting for the action to be more extended than usual. Rea overtook teammate Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) at the start, but crashes by Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team) forced a red flag and race restart – twice, due to technical issues on the grid.
At the third time of asking, with the race length now down to 16 laps, Sykes defended his position at turn 1, but Rea was in front a couple of turns later, keeping Sykes behind and jetting off. The Northern Irishman was also helped by the action behind, with Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) putting Sykes under pressure. Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) also joined the fray, swapping positions several times with his teammate in a thrilling battle.
Rea went untroubled from this point forward, leading a composed ride to the finish line. He was the only rider managing laps times under two minutes, keeping a 4-5 second gap from his closest pursuers. The defending champion has now opened an 81-point gap with Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), who struggled to finish the race eighth and sees his championship pursuit become even tougher.
Behind the leader, Melandri finally got the best of Sykes in lap 4, taking his best result since Round 1 with second. It’s the fifth podium for Melandri at Brno in WorldSBK, and a fantastic comeback after a disastrous Donington weekend. Sykes crossed the line in third, two seconds off the Italian.
The rostrum was finally just not close enough for the Yamaha riders, with van der Mark beating Lowes to fourth place. Both men will lead the line in Race 2, a fantastic opportunity to move their personal tussle to the front tomorrow.
A thrilling battle for sixth midway through the race saw Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) emerge triumphant and back into the top positions. He got the best of teammate Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia), who still managed to beat Davies in the final laps for seventh.
Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) netted himself another top-10 finish. Still not 100%, the Brit still managed to come in ninth at the flag, ahead of Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in tenth, the first independent rider at Brno. Yonny Hernández (Team Pedercini Racing) confirmed his good form at the Czech circuit, returning to the WorldSBK paddock in eleventh after missing the UK Round.
Maiden WorldSBK win for the British rider in crazy Czech Race 2
Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) took his first-ever MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship race win at the Acerbis Czech Round, in an astonishing Race 2 which saw championship leader Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) crash out early on. The thousands of Czech fans present at the Automotodrom Brno witnessed a wild, unpredictable affair, ending in a Yamaha one-two and a sixth race winner in 2018.
The front row all kept their positions at the start, with van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) holding off his teammate through the first corners. Lowes’ would make his move into the race lead the following lap however, gaining the inside line at turn 1. Meanwhile, Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) climbed all the way from eighth on the grid to third by lap 2, and past van der Mark a few turns later.
The next couple of laps saw three dramatic, almost unbelievable twists. First, championship leader Jonathan Rea went down at turn 12, apparently after coming in contact with teammate Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). The Northern Irish rider couldn’t make it back on track, retiring for the first time this season. If yesterday his lead seemed almost unsurmountable, after Sunday there was more than a glimmer of hope.
Next, Marco Melandri, having just passed Lowes for the race lead, couldn’t control his Ducati barely a couple of turns later and rode through the gravel, immediately dropping the Italian to the back of the field and denying Melandri a return to the top of the rostrum when he was the fastest man on track. And then Sykes slipped in lap 6, leaving all of yesterday’s podium off the rostrum in Race 2. In four seasons together, never had both British KRT riders left a race empty-handed. At least Melandri managed to scrape a point in fifteenth.
A dozen laps left, the stage was thus set for a Yamaha battle to the end, as Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), in third, was unable to match the pair’s pace. But this time, unlike when he led at Donington, Lowes’ YZF-R1 did not drop off in the final third: a smart, consistent and overall flawless ride by the Brit kept him ahead of his Dutch teammate all the way to the checkered flag with two seconds to spare. The man from Lincolnshire made his debut at Brno in 2011 – seven years on, he can finally call himself a WorldSBK winner.
With van der Mark claiming another podium finish in second, the Dutchman moves into third in the championship standings, above Sykes; while Davies, an excellent third at Brno considering the issues that have plagued his weekend on the Panigale, cut Rea’s lead to 65 points.
Behind them rostrum riders, Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) took fourth, his best result of the campaign, with his teammate Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) also a season-best in fifth. More good results for the Italian manufacturer, adding their bikes to the long list of podium contenders this season.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team) had a career-best of 6th at Brno, rising from eleventh on the grid in just his tenth WorldSBK race. He finishes above Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), in seventh. Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) returned to the top-ten in eighth, with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in ninth, and Román Ramos (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) tenth.
WorldSBK is back in two weeks from Laguna Seca, a special circuit with some of the best sections of the championship. Join us there on Saturday 23rd of June, and relive the best moments from the Acerbis Czech Round thanks to the WorldSBK VideoPass.