The resurgence of Jonathan Rea continued on Saturday at Laguna Seca as he won his 20th Superpole before going in to take his eighth race win of the season and extend his championship lead to 49 points. Leon Haslam (KRT) fell on lap four and no-scored but top independent rider Toprak Razgatlioglu was third today after starting from seventh on the grid.
With Tissot-Superpole to contend with after the early morning FP3 practice session, Jonathan Rea came within a whisker of setting a new track best on his official Ninja ZX-10RR to secure his 20th career pole position. He made it four Superpole wins in 2019 in the process.
The 25 minute Superpole session was run in two parts after a crash with a few minutes on the clock punctured the air fence safety barrier at the bottom of the famous Corkscrew corner, necessitating replacement before action got underway again.
Rea used his ideal grid position well to lead all the way from turn one to the final lap, scoring full points as his only real championship rival at this stage, Alvaro Bautista, fell and no-scored despite rejoining the race.
Rea had Chaz Davies for close company for the first nine laps, but led across the stripe each time and started to grow his advantage from lap ten of the 25 lap race. By the end, and even after losing some push from the rear end in the last laps, Rea had a final advantage of 5.693 seconds over Davies at the flag.
Haslam, who was fifth in Superpole, fell at The Corkscrew corner on lap four and no scored, hurting his left hand and banging his head in the fall. He fully intends to race on Sunday and will be reviewed before taking to the track in morning warm-up.
Rea extended his lead by a further 25 points in Race One and he now has two more opportunities to win races at Laguna Seca on Sunday 14 July. First there will be a ten-lap Tissot-Superpole contest and then a final full race in the afternoon, which is scheduled for 25 laps.
Jonathan Rea: “I felt my pace all weekend was solid. I could feel the Ducati riders getting closer but I still felt like I was the reference. I wanted to go at the beginning and put my head down from the start. I just had that small advantage of the grid position because I could come across and get track position into T1. It is a difficult track to pass so I just tried not to make any mistakes. It was very difficult in the beginning because the wind picked up a little bit more than this morning. Yesterday was very windy but this morning not, so it took me a few laps to get my rhythm in the race. As boring as it is to say, it was a case of ‘make no mistakes, keep hitting my points and make my rhythm.’ Physically, I felt great and I could have ridden the bike all day long. The team gave me a good bike, very stable and I had a lot of mechanical traction at the start.”
Leon Haslam: “I got a bad start and got stuck a little bit behind Loris, but I was struggling from lap one. The package felt very different from what I had all weekend in terms of corner entry. In the change of direction at The Corkscrew I fell on lap four and head-butted the floor really hard. I have a slight contusion on my left hand but I should be all right to ride tomorrow. I have to analyse the data and see what was going on. It is frustrating because I definitely felt we had a good rhythm for third place – obviously not to go with Chaz or Johnny – but that third place was on the cards and that would have been nice for the championship.”