It was business as usual in both the British and world superbike championships this weekend, as the fancied runners returned to the top of the podium at Aragon and Brands Hatch.
In Spain, triple world champion Jonathan Rea put in a masterful performance on Saturday to take the pole position and race win on a track that otherwise seemed to favour the V-twin Ducatis over the four cylinder bikes.
Saturday’s opening race saw Rea battling with the three booming Italian bikes of Chaz Davies, Marco Melandri and Xavi Fores, with the Carole Nash backed rider digging deep to pull away and take the win by 1.450 seconds from Davies, with Fores a strong third.
For Sunday’s race, held in warmer conditions, it was Davies who took the honours, with the 2017 runner-up moving into the lead with five laps to go and holding off a last lap charge from Rea, who ran wide while lining up a pass for the win.
I threw everything into the last lap but I overcooked it into turn 12,” said Jonathan. “ The set-up was pretty good, although I was struggling to stop a little bit after the rear tyre had dropped in grip; then I had reduced corner entry traction. It seemed like Chaz had the same thing but when he was making mistakes he could keep the same lap time. It seems like right now we have to be very precise all through the race, but I enjoyed it today. I had no information on how the race would pan out with the tyre choice we made, and the rise in temperature. I did not know what to expect at the end but I was really happy. I had some good tyre left and was still able to fight. Now we move onto Assen.”
In the British superbike championship at Brands Hatch it was also a day for the championship favourites to share the honours. Defending champion Shane Byrne took his and Ducati’s first win of the season in the day’s opener, taking advantage of a mistake from round one winner Bradley Ray, in the closing stages of the race.
Rain fell during the day’s second race, forcing a restart in wet conditions, and a thrilling race ensured around the frenetic Brands Hatch Indy circuit, with another Carole Nash-backed Kawasaki rider, Leon Haslam, making a late pass on Glenn Irwin to take his first win of the year in great style.
Despite slipping back to seventh in the wet conditions, 20-year-old Ray leaves Brands Hatch as the championship leader – holding a 10 point advantage over Byrne, with Haslam a further four behind, in third.
“Glenn was so deep on the brakes and one of us was going in deep, and the other went in tight,” said Haslam. “I didn’t expect to win but that race was so much fun I didn’t want it to end.”
In the world championship, Rea holds a 12 point advantage over Davies – with their next round at Assen next weekend.