Five wins from five for Johnathan Rea and his championship lead extended to 47 points meant that Race 1 at Aragon was mission accomplished for the reigning world champion. A penultimate lap crash for Chaz Davies robbed the Spanish crowd of a last lap shootout but in the preceding 17 laps the crowd were treated to a fantastic scrap.
Davies, the favorite at the start of the weekend, converted his pole position into an early lead but with Rea biting at his heels the Kawasaki rider was able to take the lead on numerous occasions. Ultimately Davies rebuffed all overtaking moves from Rea by immediately retaking the build but the dye was cast for what would happen at the end of the race.
Rea had the advantage in the opening half of the lap and Davies in the second half of the lap but with their lap-times very similar it was difficult to break away. Rea, sitting in second, plotted that if he was to break away from Davies he needed to make the move on the back straight to then use his speed in the fast, sweeping opening to the lap to pull away. The issue for Rea was that Davies was stronger on acceleration and braking on the back straight.
The final laps began with the pair once again trading places but ended with Davies in the gravel trap underneath his Ducati. The Welshman carried too much speed on the way into the corner and ran wide on entry and lost the front end. With a 55 points gap to Rea in the standings the Ducati rider will know going into tomorrow's race that there is now no margin for error in the championship battle with 21 races remaining.
“I just want to forget that race to be honest,” said Davies. “It's pretty simple that I need to win races in the coming races. You can't win a championship without winning races and that's what I've got to do now.
With Davies having won five times at Aragon in the past the fight for the win was a real statement of intent from Rea. The Northern Irishman felt that a setup improvement, and reverting to a winter setting that was quite different to what he has used in the opening rounds, allowed Kawasaki to make a big step forward at Aragon compared to last year's edition.
Riding the crest of a wave of confidence and consistency the champion will start tomorrow's Race 2 from ninth on the grid and eager to continue his winning streak.