Jonathan Rea sent out an ominous message for the rest of the 2018 WorldSBK season by leading a comfortable Kawasaki 1-2 in race one at Imola. The circuit has been a happy hunting ground for Chaz Davies and Ducati in recent years but the Kawasakis secured a comprehensive victory, Rea leading home team-mate Tom Sykes.
The warning signs were already visible for Ducati after Superpole earlier this morning with Rea pipping Sykes for pole position while Davies could only manage fourth behind his team-mate Marco Melandri. The opening lap was their best chance to make progress but instead, Davies tumbled backwards after a poor getaway, forcing him into a battle with the Aruba Junior rider Michael Ruben Rinaldi.
An error at the Variante Bassa on lap three cost him further ground, relegating him to eighth, and it wasn’t until the eleventh lap that the Welshman had recovered back into the fourth position he had started from. By this stage, Rea had eased into a four-second lead over Sykes which he would maintain until the finish while the 2013 champion comfortably kept Melandri at arm’s length to complete a second consecutive Kawasaki 1-2.
Davies was unable to chase down Melandri, although the no.7 will start from pole position for race two tomorrow. Xavi Fores maintained his consistent run in fifth ahead of Yamaha’s Michael van der Mark while Rinaldi fell to seventh, just ahead of Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori.
BSB championship leader Leon Haslam finished ninth on his wildcard outing for Puccetti but there were contrasting fortunes for his domestic rival Jason O’Halloran whose substitute appearance for the injured Leon Camier ended with a highside at the Villeneuve chicane and a broken leg.
WorldSBK 2018: Italian Round: Race One
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