The 2017 World Superbike season looks set to be a thriller, after yet another fairing-bashing, hard-fought race two. Despite starting from row three due to the new qualifying system, Jonny Rea and Chaz Davies took no prisoners, finishing in the same order as they did in the first outing the day before. Third place however went to veteran Marco Melandri, making up for his retirement in race one.
The race got underway and it was a fantastic start by Xavi Fores, who out-dragged Alex Lowes down to Doohan corner. Camier got a poor start from the middle of the front row, losing out to Laverty.
The Irishman didn’t take long in assuming the lead position, ahead of Lowes and Fores, but all the while Jonathan Rea and Chaz Davies were carving through the field like the proverbial hot knife through butter. 5th and 6th respectively by the end of the first lap.
As the order settled down, as expected, the regular riders came through to the head of the field, with Rea leading Fores, Lowes, Davies and Melandri, who bridged the gap from 10th position on the grid.
It wasn’t long before these five were exchanging places at any given opportunity, particularly down the front straight, with the slipstream effect working for Melandri as he hit 197.5mph on many occasions, on his way to setting the fastest lap of the race on lap 6, although still two tenths slower than Chaz Davies’ race lap record from 2014.
Rea and Davies soon became locked in combat, but unlike in race one, they didn’t escape that much. Lowes and Melandri faded momentarily but come the end of the final lap, they were right on the rear end of the battling duo ahead.
It wouldn’t be enough though and despite Davies finishing closer to Rea than in race one, the Ulsterman took it, clinching his 11th double win of what is already an illustrious career. Melandri took third and his first podium since winning at Magny Cours back in 2014 on an Aprilia – simply a stunning ride, given the fact he has been out of the sport at a competitive level for two seasons.
4th went to Lowes, consolidating the Brit’s pace with the Yamaha, after a year of development in 2016. Behind him was hard charging Spaniard and early race leader Xavi Fores, whilst Tom Sykes came home 6th, having started 7th.
Michael Van der Mark came in with 7th place, ahead of Camier, Savadori and his teammate Eugene Laverty, completing the top 10. The rest of the points went to birthday boy Alex De Angelis, former BSB champion Josh Brookes, double IDM German Superbike champion Markus Reiterberger, the King of Consistency, Roman Ramos and Red Bull Honda rookie, Stefan Bradl.
Thanks to his double victory, Rea leads the title with 50 points from Davies in 2nd on 40. Alex Lowes and Tom Sykes are joint 3rd place on 26 points, whilst Xavi Fores rounds out the top 5.
The next round of the WSBK series is Thailand, where we visit for the third consecutive season. The dates for your calendar are the 11th to the 12th of March. Jonny Rea has won 75% of races in Thailand, and after his first defeat in race two last year, he will be hungry to continue the winning form from the start of 2017, whilst the chasing pack will hope to have a better attempt and chance of victory.
Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko
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