RACE ONE PODIUM FOR REA
Jonathan Rea secured a podium finish with third place in the opening race of the Imola WorldSBK weekend after 19-laps of intense action in extremely hot conditions.
In Superpole qualifying Rea was seventh and thus started the opening race of the Imola weekend from the third row of the grid.
When the lights went out at the start of the 19-lap race at 14.00 hours the air temperature was a punishing 35°C. The track temperature of 58°C made life even more complicated for the riders as they balanced tyre choices against the reduced grip available over full race distance.
From the start Rea was fifth on Lap One, and would take third position by lap five. He remained in that position across the start finish line for each subsequent lap, despite being able to close in on eventual race winner Alvaro Bautista and second place rider Toprak Razgatlioglu at one stage. This was Jonathan’s seventh podium finish of the season.
Next up at Imola for Rea will be the Tissot Superpole ‘sprint’ race on Sunday morning and the final full distance Race Two in the afternoon, which is expected to be held in ever hotter conditions than Race One.
Jonathan Rea said: “A podium result was better than my expectation after yesterday afternoon and this morning. I really thought it would be a tough fight just to be inside the top five with my rhythm. I wasn’t sure about making a pass on Locatelli or Bassani because I didn’t understand their pace. But then I was able to go with Toprak and Alvaro and stay with them. They were fighting a little bit and I was there. I started thinking ‘maybe today is a good day for me?’ But when Bautista went ahead of Toprak his rhythm increased, Toprak went away with him a little bit and I had no more. It was enough to ride in third. The hot conditions are the same for everybody. On the bike it’s not so bad, you do not feel the heat so much on the bike. But, coming back to the podium, standing in the sun, is when you really feel it. In a leather suit, it is enough.”