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. The contrast this Saturday, six years later, was startling: the KRT rider led a perfect race to take his sixth race win of the season, winning more WorldSBK races than any other rider in history, as the big 60 put him above the legendary Carl Fogarty.
Around 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 from 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 corners 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 fight, 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 over Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), who took a top eight today, as his championship pursuit becomes even tougher.
Behind the leader, Melandri finally got the best of Sykes in lap 4, taking his best result since Phillip Island in February with second. It’s the fifth podium for Melandri at Brno in WorldSBK, and a fantastic comeback after a difficult 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 sit at the front of the grid in Race 2, a fantastic opportunity to move their personal tussle to podium fighting positions 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 has 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.
P1 – Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
“It was nice to take my 60th win in a race like that, I was so happy and my guys gave me an awesome bike. I want to say a big thanks to KRT for bringing us to the test here – that gave us a big advantage and meant this weekend was more calm, and we could understand our Pirelli tyres and base set-up. The race was perfect, they don’t come like that a lot and its incredible, 60 race wins is a huge story that I’ve had, each and every one is special and I couldn’t do it without my team.”
P2 – Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)
“It was a very good race, as I expected it was difficult, as the track was warm and the grip was quite low after three to four laps. We had a lot of understeer and lost the grip, so it was hard to not push too much. But I had a look and I saw Jonny was gone, so I just tried to check my gap with Tom from my pit board. and tried not to make a mistake, it was a long race but I will try to do better tomorrow.”
P3 – Tom Sykes (Kawaskai Racing Team WorldSBK)
“Today is Jonathan’s day, it’s a fantastic achievement and I want to say a big congrats to him, to get 60 is some achievement! But unfortunately we didn’t have the pace to match him, and tomorrow is another day. We really struggled with understeer today, but we didn’t lost too much once the pace settled, but initially I couldn’t dig the front in. Third is the best I could do today, it’s great to have all the support in the Czech Republic, great to have the podium here and hopefully tomorroe we can have a lot to cheer about.”