Following his double victory at Imola, Jonathan Rea has laid the foundation for his fourth consecutive WorldSBK title.
Jonathan Rea’s 59th WorldSBK victory saw the Northern Irishman join Carl Fogarty as the most successful rider in WorldSBK history. The triple champion was however quick to point out that winning races is good, but winning championships is better.
Still trailing Foggy by one title there is now a sense of inevitability that Rea will add to his title haul. The previous two years had seen Chaz Davies do the double at Imola, but he had no answers for Rea over the weekend.
The Kawasakis were the class of the field, but it was Rea who came out on top following a tough weekend for the Ducati rider, and with a 47-point advantage the title race is now firmly in Rea’s hands.
An exhibition of Nicky Hayden photographs, by the Italian photographer Mirco Lazzari, opened during the Imola WorldSBK round, aptly named “A Million Dollar Smile”.
With 69 photographs depicting the American’s international career, it provided a reminder to fans of what made the Kentucky Kid so popular.
For Lazzari, the challenge of finding the correct pictures was a trying time ,with weeks spent to ensure he struck the right chord, as the first anniversary of Hayden’s death approaches.
“I wanted to create an exhibition for Nicky, and it was very emotional because Nicky was a rider that gave all of us a lot of emotions,” said Lazzari. “He meant a lot to so many fans and to the sport, so I wanted to do this exhibition because he is missed by so many people.”
Imola is one of the most historic circuits in the world. Tamburello, Acque Minerali, and Rivazza are corner names etched into the fiber of the sport, and with the circuit named after Enzo Ferrari’s son, the emotion of Imola is always bubbling away just under the surface.
For a long time, Eugene Laverty didn’t feel at home at this twisting and technical circuit, but over the last ten years he has been able to scratch at the surface and unlock the key to a fast time around this 4.936km circuit.
“Imola is a very technical circuit and it’s a real challenge to learn it,” said Laverty. “It took me a long time to figure out some of the secrets of it, and even when I was racing here on the Yamaha Superbike, after a few years of Supersport, I was still struggling.”
“The most important thing is to be white line to white line because there’s no ‘natural corners.’ The straights are so short that everything leads into one another and it’s a real challenge to learn the details of Imola.”
With two Supersport podiums and a WorldSBK rostrum, Laverty understands what’s needed, but for this weekend, recovering from an injury, he’ll face an uphill task.
The Italian round of the WorldSBK season marks the end of the opening third of the season, but it’s hard to see how it marks the end of Chaz Davies’ dominance at the Imola circuit.
The Welshman has been a wizard around the technical circuit in recent years, and been unbeatable. Having fallen 30 points adrift of Jonathan Rea in the standings, he will know that this weekend it is crucial to chip into the Northern Irishman’s title lead.
In the World Supersport Championship, one name has dominated the results list for the past decade: Kenan Sofuo?lu. This is because the Turkish rider has posted five championship titles since he entered the class, along with 43 race wins in the WorldSSP class.
And now, the Kawasaki rider is ready to hang up his spurs, announcing that he will retire from motorcycle racing, after the WorldSBK paddock races in Imola this coming weekend.
Never fully recovering from a crash he sustained at Phillip Island during the 2015 season, Sofuo?lu broke his hip during a crash at Magny-Cours last season, and as a result the 33-year-old narrowly missed out on his sixth WorldSSP title.
Sofuo?lu has talked many times about his retirement from racing, and now with his family, he decided it was time to move on from racing motorcycles.
The boys get us caught up on what is happening in the WorldSBK paddock, which includes some silly season speculation, as well as a discussion about the possibility of WorldSBK seeing a spec-ECU or rule concessions to balance the team entries.
There is a great deal of discussion about the rivalry brewing between Jonathan Rea and Chaz Davies, as well as the future involvement of factory teams, as manufacturers tease new motorcycles and look to improve their WorldSBK results.
Before the show ends, the guys also give a quick briefing on the World Supersport and Supersport 300 classes.
We should preface that this episode was recorded before we heard the news about Nicky Hayden’s cycling accident in Italy, and the entire Paddock Pass Podcast teams is hoping for Nicky’s full and speedy recovering. He and his family are in our thoughts, and we hope to see him back in the racing paddock very soon.
As always, be sure to follow the Paddock Pass Podcast on Facebook, Twitter and subscribe to the show on iTunes and SoundCloud – we even have an RSS feed for you. If you like the show, we would really appreciate you giving it a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!
Chaz Davies etched his name into Ducati lore by once again dominating the Italian manufacturer’s home round at Imola.
With hundreds of guests on site to see it, Davies picked his way through the pack in Race 2 from ninth on the grid, to take the lead at half-distance from Tom Sykes, and ease his way to what would become a comfortable victory.
The Welshman was in relaxed form all weekend, and afterwards said that “this was a weekend that our bike was the best bike out there, and it was up to us to use that to its full potential.”
Davies certainly did that as he wrapped up his third win of the 2017 campaign and moved back to second in the standings.
Chaz Davies continued to dominate the Imola WorldSBK meeting by claiming victory in the opening race of the weekend.
The Welsh rider had earlier taken the fifth Superpole of his career, but the rate at which he was able to ease away from the field certainly laid a marker to his rivals for what to expect in tomorrow’s race.
The Ducati star has won the last three races at the Italian venue from pole position, but with the Race 2 grid reshuffle he’ll have to battle through the pack from ninth position on Sunday.