Round Five – Imola
Sunday Superpole Race
Jonathan Rea had broke the winning streak of Alvaro Bautista on Saturday afternoon with victory in race one at Imola and the Northern Irishman did it again Sunday morning with victory in the ten-lap Superpole race. Rain then stopped play ahead of the Sunday afternoon race.
On a damp but drying circuit, there was drama before the race even started, as Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) missed the warm up lap and was forced to start from pit lane. leaving the 2013 WorldSBK champion with plenty of work to do in the early stages.
With the race underway, Chaz Davies got the jump from pole position with Jonathan Rea side-by-side with the Welshman but it was the Ducati man that had his nose in front at turn two. Championship leader Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) was third whilst Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) held fourth in the opening stages of the race.
With the race then settling down, a mistake from Chaz Davies at the final chicane allowed Rea and Bautista to push him back to third. Davies now had to put in the hard work all over again, as the reigning champion began to pull out an advantage.
A heady battle unfolded for fourth place, this time with Michael van der Mark leading the battle from Toprak Razgatlioglu, Alex Lowes and Haslam, who had once again dropped down the order after a combative couple of laps from the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team riders.
Toprak Razgatlioglu however wouldn’t stay in the fight long, as he began to drop back through the field, his Superpole Race tyre not able to go the distance.
Similarly, Alvaro Bautista, who had also opted for the same compound, began to drop back towards his team-mate and with just five laps to go at the second part of Rivazza, Davies squeezed down the inside.
Then, the two dominant forces of WorldSBK in the past four seasons – Rea and Davies – went head-to-head in terms of lap times, right on lap record pace and both having to keep that pace up right until the end.
The gap momentarily came down to below a second, but Davies was unable to get on terms with Jonathan Rea, whilst Bautista looked on from behind unable to run with the leading duo.
Jonathan Rea took the win with Davies and Bautista coming home behind him.
Jonathan Rea – P1
“It was a really positive weekend, to get my feeling with the bike here and be able to really get the maximum out of it. To pick up two race wins makes me really happy. I want to thank all the team for always believing and keeping on pushing. We never stopped believing that this weekend was a perfect opportunity for the chance to win. With our form here in the past, the way our bike works here and the way I ride – it was our chance. So we had to take it and I did, in both races. That was positive but unfortunately race three was cancelled because of the weather which came in. I completely understand and I am sure we will get our chance again.”
Chaz Davies – P2
“It’s a bit of a shame we never got the chance to do race 2 here at Imola but unfortunately in the wet this track has quite a few limits. Imola is not a normal circuit, and with these ups and downs you get a lot of standing water especially in the corners and these conditions meant that they had to cancel today’s race. It was the right decision, but I’m sorry for all the fans who stayed here in the rain all afternoon just to see us race. The positive thing is that we managed to do the sprint race, and judging by the result, it was a pity not to have been able to do the full-length second race. After a tough start to the season, I’m starting to see the light and my feeling with the Panigale V4 R is improving all the time. I go home from Imola knowing that I’ve made a lot of progress in view of the next races.”
Álvaro Bautista – P3
“Unfortunately the bad weather affected the second race, and it was raining really hard. The track conditions were dangerous, with a lot of water in some parts and streams crossing the track. It was too risky for the riders and it was the right decision to cancel the race. We feel really bad about that because we know that there are a lot of Superbike fans here, but rider safety is the most important aspect. Having the support of all the Ducatisti is incredible and even though I didn’t win a race, it was one of the best weekends in my entire career because I really felt their support. For this reason, I feel a bit sorry for them, but I think they will understand the situation.”
Michael van der Mark took his best Imola result in fourth position while his Pata Yamaha team-mate Alex Lowes rounded out the top five after battling sickness all weekend.
Michael van der Mark – P4
“We changed quite a lot on the bike for the Superpole Race and I immediately felt that the bike was better, especially in the areas we identified for improvement after Race 1 yesterday. This gave me a lot of confidence and my pace was a lot quicker compared to yesterday. I got a good start and had a little battle in the beginning, but that meant I just lost contact with Alvaro, who managed to pull a gap that I didn’t have time to close. But I had a good lead over the guys behind me and, while it wasn’t the most exciting race I’ve ever had, I was really happy with the feeling of the bike and my pace in the race. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to take advantage of the improvements in Race 2 this afternoon, as it was cancelled due to the weather. It’s a shame because we wanted to race and everyone who’d braved the weather to be here wanted to see us race, but with so much standing water on the track it just wasn’t safe.”
Alex Lowes – P5
“The bike felt great in the Superpole race. I had a good battle with the Leon and Toprak in the early stages of the race, before pulling a bit of a gap on them. My best laps were near the end of the race and I felt that, maybe, if I’d have got clear sooner then I might have been able to have a good battle with Michael. But for us to finish fourth and fifth on what has previously been a tough track for us shows just how much we’ve improved. It gives me a lot of confidence going forward, now that we’ve been so competitive at what was probably our worst track last year. I’m really happy with the weekend; I’ve been up against it a bit with the sickness, but I’m quite proud of myself for how I’ve dealt with it and come out of it with some decent points. A big thank you to all the fans that turned out over the weekend, but especially today. Luckily, they got to see the Superpole race and then a thrilling Supersport race, but it was a shame they missed out on Race 2 because of the weather conditions. We had a lot of rain in a short space of time and there was a lot of standing water on track. This circuit has a couple of third and fourth gear kinks, which are really fast, and that’s exactly where the standing water was collecting. On a bike, surrounded by other riders at those speeds, it simply wasn’t safe enough to race this afternoon, unfortunately.”
After figuring more highly early on Leon Haslam eventually finished sixth.
Leon Haslam- P6
“I had exactly the same problem as in race one. I could not pass, could not follow the guys. When I had a gap I could go really fast. Compared to Jonathan we are losing under braking but on a positive note, in cornering, in the exits, and how I adapted my style in other areas, we made good steps. Jonathan is very good here and I knew it was going to be a tough weekend trying to adapt my style with the things I have struggled with, but it was a lot harder than I expected. We will take a fifth and a sixth.”
Razgatlioglu was caught but not passed by a charging Sykes that had started from pit-lane, they finished seventh and eighth respectively.
Jordi Torres was ninth while Markus Reiterberger completed the top ten.
Less than a second back, super-substitute Tommy Bridewell was 11th, a great ride from the Briton.
Wildcard Lorenzo Zanetti was in 12th, ahead of Sandro Cortese Hector Barbera and Michael Ruben Rinaldi completed the point scorers.
Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team
“The summary of the day is that we proved again that the BMW S 1000 RR is getting very quick now. We have a good pace and I was looking forward to a dry race. In the Superpole race, Tom unfortunately had to start from pit lane. He did the sighting lap to the grid on race tyres. Due to the low temperatures, the tyre pressure slightly dropped below the limit. We will adapt the procedures to avoid this in the future. Tom’s race then was very positive. With his lap times he could have been battling for fourth position which is a fantastic position to be in. Markus went with a different tyre scenario. He was one of only four riders to opt for the SCX tyre. It was a gamble and he would have been very, very good if that would have worked out but unfortunately he lost the tyre before the race was finished. But anyway, we are happy with the top ten for Markus. Overall we can say after this weekend that we are now showing that with its pace the bike can be fast now at many circuits. We can carry this forward and it’s also important that we will have a test at Misano before Jerez because we once again have many things to test.”
Race Two Cancelled
Following severe rain on Sunday afternoon in Imola, and after lengthy delays, the decision was finally made to cancel WorldSBK Race 2 and WorldSSP 300 races of the Pirelli Italian Round at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola.
With the heavy rain failing to stop, conditions deteriorated and therefore Race Direction and the Safety Commission took the difficult decision to cancel Sunday’s races in order to guarantee riders’ safety.
Unfortunately, that signalled an early end to the fifth WorldSBK round of the season, which currently sees Alvaro Bautista with 263 points leading the WorldSBK championship standings followed by Jonathan Rea in second position on a strong 220-points.
The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship will return into action at Circuito de Jerez Angel Nieto for the Acerbis Spanish Round from 7th June – 9th June 2019.
WSBK 2019 Imola Sunday Superpole Race Results