Jonathan Rea goes into world superbike’s summer break with his charge for a record breaking third consecutive title right on track after another spectacular win at America’s Laguna Seca circuit this weekend.
The challenging Californian circuit has traditionally been happy hunting ground for Rea’s title rival Chaz Davies, and it was the Welshman who took a comfortable win in Saturday’s opening race, with Rea heading home his team-mate Tom Sykes in second.
As has been the case at most races this season, the British trio were head and shoulders above the competition, with fourth placed Marco Melandri taking the flag over 17 seconds behind the race winner.
Thoughts that the controversial new reverse grid format may throw up a surprise in Sunday’s race were quickly forgotten as Sykes scythed through from seventh on the grid, to lead from his team-mate at the end of the first lap. The American track is notoriously difficult to overtake on, but such is the level of the top three that they once again made easy work of their third row starts, allocated as a result of finishing on the podium in Saturday’s race.
Rea passed his Kawasaki colleague on the third of 25 laps to take a lead he would never lose, while Davies battled through the pack. Unlike the Kawasaki riders, the Ducati man was unable to make good progress on the opening lap and found himself stuck behind Xavi Fores on another Bologna bike. The Welshman moved into third on lap six but was unable to make further progress. Despite the handicap of a poor start, Davies was magnanimous in defeat, conceding that he didn’t have the pace to take the fight to the top two.
With a 45 point haul, Carole Nash-backed Rea has extended his championship lead to 59 points over second placed Sykes, with Davies a further 56 points back.
Speaking after Sunday’s race, Rea said: “It was awesome to win today and we did it by putting 25 good laps together. Right from the first lap Tom got away and I found it hard coming through at that stage. But when I got clear I put my head down and I knew it was game on. As soon as the opportunity presented itself and went through into the lead, and set my rhythm. We made a real step with the set-up overnight. On yesterday’s pace I felt good but I felt it was a difficult opening race. I left the changes for today to Pere, my crew chief, and did not go into too much detail. He came up with a good plan in warm-up and it seemed to work. Everything seemed to be coming easier and during the race I did not change anything, just played a little bit electronically with the engine braking settings. I want to thank all my team for giving me a great package and this is a good way to go into the summer break.”
In truth, there were little talking points from the two Laguna races, with little in the way of drama or overtaking. Such is the domination of the British trio that they have secured all but 10 of the 48 podium places this year (Melandri has taken eight, with fellow Brit Alex Lowes the other two on his Yamaha) and the major talking point of the weekend are the proposed new technical regulations aimed at reducing costs and increasing parity throughout the field.
The championship now takes a six week break and resumes at Germany’s Lausitzring on the weekend of 19-20 August.