The third round of the WorldSBK took place at Aragon – the first European round for the year and it was another win for Rea and Ducati finally returned to the top…
In the opening 18-lap encounter at MotorLand Aragon, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) claimed his fourth win of the season, equalling his previous best for number of victories in a year in just five starts. The Ulsterman came out on top at the end of an enthralling last lap saw, which him lose the lead only to retake it on the final corner from fellow Briton Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team) who finished second, missing out the victory by 0.051s.
Initially leading from the start, other KRT rider Tom Sykes was put under immense pressure from the current championship leader and team mate Jonathan Rea who eventually overhauled the former champion on lap 14, and Chaz Davies whose pace in the closing stages was impressive as he clawed back a small gap that had opened up to put himself into contention as the trio neared the last lap. Sykes would eventually finish in the final podium place.
Behind the leading three another three way fight ensued, with Pole Position man Leon Haslam (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) getting the better of his team mate Jordi Torres, the pair finish 4th and 5th respectively, just ahead of Xavi Fores on the second factory Ducati Panigale R machine.
Nico Terol (Althea Racing Ducati) closed to within 2.3s of Haslam to claim a well-deserved seventh ahead of Leandro Mercado (Barni Racing Ducati), Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) and MV Agusta Reparto Corse’s Leon Camier, who completed the top-10.
It was a difficult opening race for the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki pairing of Alex Lowes and Randy de Puniet who both retired to the pits within the opening five laps before rejoining at half distance in an attempt to ensure the technical issues do not re-appear in Race 2. Pata Honda rider Michael van der Mark also retired on lap 11.
The second 18-lap race at MotorLand Aragon, run in much warmer conditions, was won by Briton Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team), after a dominating performance. The Welshman led from turn one to build up a comfortable lead courtesy of a stellar race pace, eventually taking the flag for his fifth career win by 3.1 seconds. Davies last won a WorldSBK race at the Nürburgring in Germany in 2013, but his victory in Spain not only ended Ducati’s 58-race winning drought but also marked the first win for the Panigale R machine in the series.
Race 1 winner Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team), suffering from a fever, battled hard throughout the whole race with former team mate Leon Haslam (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils), who looked much more at home in race 2 than he did in the earlier encounter. Second position would eventually go to Rea, thus extending his championship lead to 26 points, with Haslam taking the final place on the rostrum as the pair were split by just 0.5s at the chequered flag.
Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) took a well-earned fourth position, circulating more or less alone for the latter part of the race, the rookie looking pleased on his return to the pit box. Xavi Fores claimed another solid result on his debut weekend with the Aruba.it Ducati Superbike Team in fifth.
David Salom (Team Pedercini Kawasaki) completed the top-6 after overhauling Leandro Mercado (Barni Racing Ducati), Michael van Der Mark (Pata Honda World Superbike Team), Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia) and Nico Terol (Althea Racing Ducati) in the final two laps.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) was running fourth and looked comfortable before high-siding spectacularly on lap five. Reigning champion Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) also fell at the fast turn 14 which ends the lap, the Frenchman was able to walk away.
Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) had another race to forget, the young English rider running off track in the early stages before recovering to salvage two points with a 14th place finish at the flag.