Jonathan Rea took a breathtaking victory in race two of today’s fifth round World Superbike championship event at Donington Park in the UK, following a solid fourth place finish in race one.
The 25-year-old Honda World Superbike Team rider worked with his crew all weekend on setting up his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade for the harder rear tyre on offer at Donington and, in the latter stages of race one, a podium finish even looked possible, as Italian Marco Melandri took victory.
A small set-up change for race two allowed Rea to join a gripping, five-way battle at the front, but it wasn’t until the final corner that he saw a chance for victory. As Melandri forced himself and team-mate Leon Haslam wide, Rea went for the resulting gap but came together with Haslam, who crashed out, allowing Rea to take his first podium at Donington Park and his second win of the season – his tenth SBK win in total. As a result he moves up to third place in the championship table, 20.5 points off the lead.
Rea’s Honda World Superbike team-mate, Hiroshi Aoyama, continued to make progress on his CBR1000RR, but a set-up change for race one did not bring the expected result and the Japanese rider finished in 17th place.
A setting reversal for race two, improved his machine’s handling and gave Aoyama the opportunity to battle to tenth place at the flag.
Jonathan Rea – 4th and 1st It’s nice to win and, in that second race, everybody wanted to win so bad. It was a crazy race and I made it hard work because I dropped off the group again in the middle stage and then, when I caught the group, I made a big mistake and ran wide at the last corner. To catch up with five laps to go and make up some places and then cap it off with the win was unbelievable. I was quite happy with the fourth in race one as well – the guys gave me a great bike and Chris [Pike – crew chief] and his team were on it all weekend. It’s nice to come here and get a good result because it’s never happened in the past with Superbike. I got on the podium in Supersport but this is nice for the British fans and there were quite a lot of guys out there. On the slowing-down lap everyone was clapping and it’s nice to have a British winner at a British round.
Hiroshi Aoyama – 17th and 10th It was a race track that I know and I was expecting a little bit more result. The first day we started in a good way but on the second day we could not improve in qualifying so we were 17th and missed Superpole. This was a little bit disappointing but for the race we tried to improve the set-up. Somehow, in the first race, we went in the wrong direction, so I was fighting but could not make it. In the second race, we went to the opposite set-up and it seems like this was positive and I could fight for tenth position. Also, as a team, Johnny won the race, so it was not so bad a weekend. Of course I want to be better but I have never ridden at Miller so I have to learn the racetrack but I am thinking positive.
Pieter Breddels – technical co-ordinator The first race for Hiroshi was very disappointing and he didn’t quite have the pace that we had hoped for. We made some adjustments to the bike and in race two he went quite a bit better. It’s work in progress but was a lot more positive than recently and we’ll continue this work at the next race. For Jonathan it’s been an amazing day. In the first race he managed fourth and showed some good recovery after some arm-pump mid-race. In the second race we got a victory but I must say I feel a little bit sorry for Leon Haslam who got caught in a racing incident, allowing Jonathan to continue and get the win. He rode the second race incredibly well and it was a fully deserved win, so well done to him.
2012 World Superbike championship, round five
Donington Park, UK – 4.023km, 23 laps
Race 1 results:
1 Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW 2 Leon Haslam (GBR) BMW 3 Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki 4 Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda World Superbike Team 5 Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia 6 Carlos Checa (ESP) Ducati 17 Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Honda World Superbike Team
Race 2 results:
1 Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda World Superbike Team 2 Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia 3 Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki 4 Leon Camier (GBR) Suzuki 5 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Ducati 6 Chaz Davies (GBR) Aprilia 10 Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Honda World Superbike Team
Championship points after five of 14 rounds:
1 Biaggi 128.5, 2 Sykes 123.5, 3 Rea 108, 4 Checa 105.5, 5 Melandri 97.5, 6 Haslam 89.
Next round: Miller Motorsport Parks, USA – 26-28 May