Kawasaki pair do Battle in France

Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes (KRT) finished second and third respectively in the second 21-lap FIM Superbike World Championship race at Magny Cours, with Rea extending his championship lead over his team-mate to 48 points.

Rea has scored nine race wins on the latest Ninja ZX-10R so far this season and Sykes five, but despite being joined in a battle out front for much of the 21 lap contest – held in fully dry conditions – the late pace of Saturday race winner Chaz Davies also gave him a win on Sunday.

With both official Kawasaki Racing Team riders keen to add to their race victory tallies, especially after Sykes had been third and Rea fourth in Saturday’s opener, the front-running action was close and competitive between the riders who still occupy first and second places in the championship.

The conditions of race two could not have been more different from the wet and drying track encountered on Saturday. The dry surface allowed Sykes to post a new lap record of 1m 37.864 seconds, on lap three, as he rode away out front to try and gap the field.

The undulations and heavy braking areas of the 4.411km Magny Cours circuit provided many passing opportunities for Rea after he had caught up with Sykes, but Tom proved determined to hold onto his lead. He only surrendered it on lap 16 – temporarily to Rea and then finally to Davies. Rea re-passed Sykes with four laps to go and set about trying to reel in Davies. Rea had lost too much ground by that stage but still scored his first podium of the weekend in second place.

The top three riders were covered by just over 2.5 seconds at the end, with Sykes half a second from Rea across the line. After race two in France Rea has now scored 84 podium places during his career and Sykes 81. In the current championship standings, Rea has 426 points, Sykes 378 and Davies 345.

The next races in the championship will take place on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th October, at Jerez in Spain. The last round will be held at the Losail Circuit in Qatar, between 28th and 30th October.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “I tried to plan my pass on Tom because he is strong right now and he is hard to pass at the best of times. When I overtook under braking, unfortunately it let Chaz come past us. Then I had to try to pass Tom again but already the gap to Chaz was too much. Maybe I spent too much time behind Tom but he is riding so well. I am happy with my race because, today, second place was the best I could do and I am happy with the way I rode. We need to improve the bike set-up in some areas but all things considered I am happy with the result. It is a 48-point gap now and it is nice to extend the championship lead, if by one point after Lausitzring last time and by another single point here! Championships can be won by a point so every one of them is important. If we can just have a clean end to the season hopefully we can do the job.”

Tom Sykes, stated: “When I started the race the bike felt really good and it was quite easy for me to manage 1m 37 second lap times. Unfortunately, for the first time all weekend, our pace dropped and I am confused about this. I then struggled to carry corner speed so that is something for us to look at. On Friday we were very fast and consistent but we had some issues in the second part of the race today. We were more consistent over the whole weekend this time, however, and we are making steps forward. Unfortunately it is quite late in the season now but at least we are able to fight at the front and be somewhere close for the race win.”

Behind the official KRT riders, Roman Ramos (Team GOELEVEN Kawasaki) was 13th today and stand-in rider Matthieu Lagrive (Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) 15th. Gianluca Vizziello (Grillini Racing Team Kawasaki) went 17th but Saeed Al Sulaiti (Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) no-scored after retiring.

Kiko Giles

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