Jonathan Rea enters the long summer break in WorldSBK action with an 81-point championship lead having scored another race win and a final runner-up spot on Sunday at Laguna Seca. Leon Haslam recovered well from his big fall on Saturday to record a fifth and sixth place finish today.
With two races to compete in each Sunday in the 2019 season, Rea and Haslam had two opportunities to score at the intense 3.660km circuit in California, and both rose to the occasion.
The Tissot-Superpole race was cut from ten to eight laps after a red flag was thrown to halt the action after two backmarkers had crashed. For the second time this weekend former championship leader Alvaro Bautista fell in a race, and he could not make the restarted Superpole race.
Rea, setting a new lap record of 1’22.700 in the process, won the Tissot-Superpole race to take his total of 2019 race victories to nine after winning the opening Laguna Seca race on Saturday.
There was to be no tenth race win to round out this weekend but in finishing a strong second behind Chaz Davies in Race Two Rea extended his championship points lead to a remarkable 81, on a weekend when his main rival Bautista no scored completely after retiring from Race Two.
Rea lifted his career race-winning total to a new and unparalleled height of 80 (part of 156 total podiums) thanks to his pair of winner’s trophies from this round.
Haslam overcame an injury to his left hand after his Saturday crash to secure two strong finishes – despite a lack of strength and stamina in his hand and an eventually overworked left arm and shoulder. Fifth and sixth places maintained Haslam’s top five position overall.
In the championship points Rea has 433, Bautista 352, Alex Lowes 220, Michael van der Mark 215, Haslam 202 and Razgatlioglu 191.
After the very long summer break – in WorldSBK action at least – the tenth round of the championship will be held at Portimao between 6 and 8 September. Before that Rea, Haslam and Razgatlioglu will compete at the Suzuka 8 Hours race and then there will be an official WorldSBK test for all at Portimao in late August.
Jonathan Rea: “I would never have believed you if you told me I would come here and set a new lap record, win two races and take the overall, so it has been a great weekend. We made a very small change to the bike between the Superpole race and Race Two. My feeling was completely different, which we did not expect. There was a lot of front movement, whereas all weekend before that we had been strong with the front. I had a few small warnings, just enough for me to roll it back a bit, think about finishing and we got it done. I am just super-satisfied with this weekend and I did the best I could in race two. I am looking forward to the summer break now.”
Leon Haslam: “I felt we had good pace today and we were there for that podium pace. I could catch Tom Sykes and Alex quite comfortably but in the end I just struggled with myself, not the bike. Especially braking into left hand corners – and there are a fair few of them here. I was disappointed with the crash yesterday and I have suffered all day today with my wrist and the pain transferred into my shoulder because I was not riding as freely. I can’t be too unhappy as it was my mistake when we crashed in Race One, but we have had a fifth and sixth today and were not far off the podium pace.”