Following his double victory at Imola Jonathan Rea has laid the foundations for his fourth consecutive WorldSBK title.
Rea becomes the equal of Foggy
Jonathan Rea's 59th WorldSBK victory saw the Northern Irishman join Carl Fogarty as the most successful rider in WorldSBK history. But the triple champion was 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 championship haul. The previous two years had seen Chaz Davies do the double at Imola, but he had no answers for Rea over the weekend. They were the class of the field, but it was Rea who came out on top following a tough weekend for the Ducati rider. With a 47 point advantage the title race is now firmly in Rea's hands.
Kawasaki have refined their package
One of the biggest questions of the winter was how long it would take Kawasaki to understand the new 2018 regulations. Not long was the emphatic answer. The form of Rea can almost be taken for granted but Tom Sykes' victory at Assen and double Italian podium shows how well rounded the package is despite a winter of change.
Class of the field
That Ducati and Kawasaki are the best bikes on the grid isn't news but Imola showed just how much better their packages are. The Italian circuit is very technical and tests every facet of your bike. If there is a weakness, Imola will expose it. The margins from the leading bikes to the rest of the field showed how much work still needs to be done to refine different bikes. Donington Park should offer everyone a chance to get back on a more level playing field, and it's worth remembering that while Kawasaki and Ducati have been doing all the winning, the start of this season saw much more competitive racing than previous years.
What do Honda have to do to catch a break?
At Imola, Leon Camier returned to action, but the extent of his Aragon injuries meant that he was far from fully fit and after two practice sessions he was ruled out of action. That offered a chance for Jason O'Halloran to step into action for the weekend and the BSB racer showed strong potential by outqualifying his teammate, Jake Gagne. Unfortunately for the Australian, his weekend ended with a fractured leg following a Race 1 crash. Honda clearly still need to make progress with their bike but a change of luck is also needed.
The King bows out
Kenan Sofuoglu retired from racing on Sunday and the Turkish star was given a tremendous reception by past rivals. The five times WorldSSP champion has long been the benchmark of the class but the respect that he was held in was still surprising. Numerous riders said that racing Sofuoglu made them a better rider. PJ Jacobsen even went so far as explaining how generous he was with rivals.
“There were so many times when Kenan would take you aside at the Paddock Show and saw something that he saw you do during a race. He could say something that would make you stronger because for Kenan it was all about being able to have a last lap fight. He was so good at controlling a race and his race craft was second to none.”
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