It was a fantastic day’s racing at round nine of the World Superbike championship at Silverstone at the weekend where East Antrim’s Jonathan Rea took a well-deserved victory.
Pata Honda rider Rea won the first of Sunday’s races - his first since Donington Park in 2012 and eleventh in his career. In race two, which like race one was rain-affected, he left his challenge too late and finished fourth.
It was a day of mixed conditions at the 5.902km circuit, with race one delayed by 20 minutes and shortened by a lap, but starting dry. As light rain began to fall on lap six, however, Rea moved to the front and extended his lead to more than six seconds before easing off in the closing two laps to take a superb victory.
His fellow Northern Irishman Eugene Laverty started from his first-ever pole position after a strange superpole on Saturday, made a cautious start and dropped back after leading in the early laps. In the closing laps he pushed hard to come back to second and join his compatriot on the podium.
Rea, a former Larne Grammar pupil, made a slow start to a brilliant race two, lying ninth in the early laps before making a steady climb towards another podium challenge. However, the red flags prevented any further progress, leaving Rea fourth at the flag with Laverty taking the Aprilia to third behind the two French riders Jules Cluzel and winner Loriz Baz on the Kawasaki.
“Race one was probably one of the sweetest victories of my career because to ride out-front in those conditions was quite scary,” said Rea. “I was so happy for the whole team and our sponsors, but I had to be very cautious. I also had to be smart and, as I saw the gap heading into the last few laps, I didn’t want to be throwing away that kind of lead.
“My team gave me a great bike after we pulled something out for Superpole that worked in the dry. We made a good change for race two and got up to fourth after I got stuck behind Tom Sykes for a few laps. I lost way too much time at the beginning but I was happy to do a 2:05-lap in the later stages. The race two result was OK, but we can go into the summer break happy enough that we’ve got an overall package that can challenge for podiums.”
Laverty, who now lies third in the championship, added: “These were two really difficult races but I’m happy with a double podium after the ups and downs in Moscow. The riders in front of me took on a tricky track bravely and maybe in race two I could have aimed for a bit of a better result since I was quite fast on the dry asphalt. In any case, I want to compliment race direction. The decisions made today were perfect despite the difficulties and the riders were involved in discussions that were helpful in handling as best as possible a delicate situation like the one we had today”.
The Superbike World Championship now goes into a month-long summer break.