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Rea Takes Two More Podiums In Spain
Jonathan Rea (KRT) secured two more strong podium finishes in hot riding conditions at an all-new WorldSBK venue to leave Navarra with the joint lead of the 2021 championship. At the halfway point of the season, Alex Lowes finished his two races on Sunday in fifth and sixth position respectively to retain his fourth place championship ranking.
The first-ever WorldSBK round at the Circuito de Navarra was a tough challenge for six-times champion Jonathan Rea but he left with a full house of podium places, after placing second and third today.
In the first points-scoring opportunity on Sunday, the ten-lap Tissot Superpole Race, Rea was battling and close second, just over one second behind the race winner.
As the temperatures increased for the planned 23-lap Race Two Rea would end up third, fighting grip issues in the later laps after riding in second place for most of what was a 22-lap race, in reality.
The start of Race Two was delayed as two riders in the starting lineup had separate issues and the other riders had to sit on the grid for some time before the ‘Start Delayed’ board was shown. One lap was removed from the race distance as a consequence of the late start.
Lowes rode strongly in the Superpole ‘Sprint’ race on Sunday morning and placed fifth. He had more issues as the track temperatures rose in the afternoon but after qualifying seventh on Saturday he ended his Navarra race weekend with fifth place on Saturday and then another fifth and finally a sixth place on Sunday.
As the championship fight heats up and the mid-point of the season has been crossed over this weekend Rea and Toprak Razgatlioglu are tied on 311 points, as joint leaders of the championship. Scott Redding, Race One and Superpole race winner at Navarra, is third overall with 273 points. Lowes has 169 points, in fourth position.
The championship visits a well-known venue in France for Round Eight, when Magny Cours hosts the next event between 3-5 September.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “I had a little bit more margin today. I felt after the Superpole race that I could really fight for it in Race Two. Toprak made a huge step, he was very fast and the rhythm was faster than yesterday. For ten laps I was fighting, fighting, fighting, and I was just waiting for his speed to drop off - but it never really did. I was losing front feeling, having a lot of front slides and it was time for me then to consolidate. I had a big moment in the last corner when I hit an object on the track, which was just offline. That made the front bobble and I caught the slide, and then I had another slide in T13. It was one of those - a tough weekend. It wasn’t perfect for everybody, people were slipping and sliding around, but it penalized us a little bit more. That said, it was solid. I wasn’t confident coming here so to come away with what we did, and not losing too many points in the championship. It could have been much worse for us.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “The Superpole Race was good for us. We made a few changes on the bike after yesterday and I was stronger. I was able to get closer to the guys in front. The pace felt quite good to the end, nice and consistent. We decided to keep the bike the same for the last race when the temperature went up. I got a good start again but on lap one at T9 everybody was trying to get into position. There are not too many places to pass around here and when Tom Sykes hit me I had to release the brake or else I was going to hit Andrea Locatelli. That was a shame because it put me right back. I struggled to come back through. I was faster than Michael van der Mark but it took me five or six laps to pass him and by the time I had got on the back of him my tire was moving a lot. It was a frustrating race because I could not fight like I wanted to.”
Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) had some startline dramas in Race Two and eventually had to take two long-lap penalties as a result, but he finished his comeback weekend from injury 15th in the Superpole race and 14th in Race Two.
Loris Cresson (TPR Outdo Kawasaki) was 20th and 17th today; Jayson Uribe (TPR Outdo Kawasaki) was 21st in the sprint and then 16th in the longer race.