WorldSBK: So close Rea can smell the title


Jonathan Rea was again on top form at the Malaysian WorldSBK round but Chaz Davies spoiled the Championship party by taking race 2…

Biaggi and his Aprilia team
Biaggi and his Aprilia team

Race One: 

Rea wins as Sykes loses pace in closing stages

The opening race of the Pirelli Malaysian Round of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship at Sepang was won by championship leader Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki RT) after a race of two halves saw long-time leader Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) slip to 5th at the flag.

After 5 laps the gap from Sykes in the lead to the chasing pack was 2.6s with Chaz Davies ( Racing – Ducati SBK Team) and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team), who had made the best start of anyone (8th to 3rd at turn 1) in hot pursuit. Sykes meanwhile was the only rider seemingly able to lap consistently in the 2.04s bracket.

As the race settled into a rhythm and with Sykes continuing to pull away the closest on track fight was between the Aprilia pairing of Leon Haslam and Max Biaggi who were dicing for 5th and 6th.

With 4 laps to go it appeared the Davies and Rea’s tyres were holding up better than those of long-time leader Sykes, the pair reducing the gap to less than a second – the race suddenly blown wide open as firstly Davies then Rea passed the former champ.

At the flag Rea recorded his 12th win of the year with Davies coming home second ahead after the pair swapped places three times on the final lap, twice at the final corner.

Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing Team) claimed a historic 71st podium finish in 3rd, the Italian extending his own record of being the oldest rider to ever stand on a WorldSBK podium.

the master leads

Sylvain Guintoli claimed a season best 4th after his Pata Honda appeared to be kinder to its tyres while Poleman Sykes dropped to 5th after setting a blistering pace that saw him shatter the lap record in the early stages.

Alex Lowes was 6th aboard the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki ahead of Leon Haslam (Aprilia Racing Team), Althea Racing pairing Matteo Baiocco and Niccolo Canepa, and Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Team) who dropped from what looked like a safe 4th to 10th in the final few laps.

David Salom (Team Pedercini), Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki), Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), Roman Ramos (Team Go Eleven) and Leandro Mercado (Barni Racing) completed the point scorers.

Michael van der Mark retired his Pata Honda after running inside the top ten.

WorldSBK Sepang – Race 1
1 – Jonathan Rea Kawasaki Racing Team
2 – Chaz Davies Racing – Ducati Superbike Team +0.121
3 – Max Biaggi Aprilia Racing Team +10.695 Race to finish line  Davies 7 Rea 65


Race Two: 

Davies takes Rea on the finish line and temporarily halts his championship march;  Biaggi crashes out in race two

Chaz Davies ( Racing – Ducati SBK Team) has won the second WorldSBK race at Sepang, Malaysia after a spectacular last-lap battle with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team), which saw the two riders separated by 0.091s at the line. This fraction of a second stopped the series leader, Rea, clinching his first world superbike title on Sunday and he will now need to wait till after the summer break and round 11 in Jerez to attempt to seal the championship.

Unlike in Race 1, it was Welshman Davies who attempted pull to away from the rest of the field, with champion elect Rea giving chase. The factory Ducati rider managed to keep a fast pace until the last two laps, when series leader Rea began his final charge to the top; after losing the lead in the last sector, Davies hit the brakes as late as he could at the final left-hander to get the better of his rival as the two touched mid-turn.

Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) made the right changes to his RSV4 RF machine between the day’s two races, the Spanish WorldSBK rookie able to lap consistently in the 2.06s bracket for the duration of Race 2 to claim his second podium finish of the season.Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Honda World Superbike) scored another fourth position to complete his best weekend of the season so far ahead of team-mate Michael van der Mark, who made up for his Race 1 retirement with a fine fifth as he edged Leon Haslam (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) by a tenth of a second.

David Salom (Team Pedercini), Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki), Matteo Baiocco (Althea Racing) and Roman Ramos (Team Go Eleven) were seventh to tenth respectively, with Niccolò Canepa (Althea Racing), Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki), Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) and Leandro Mercado (Barni Racing) completing the points positions.

Following his return to the podium in Race 1, Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing Team) found himself on the receiving end of a collision also involving the still-reigning WorldSBK Champion Guintoli as well as the aforementioned Sykes and Lowes. Unlike Biaggi, Englishman Sykes did not fall off his bike, although he lost several positions.

Having dropped to 17th place by the end of Lap 1, the former title winner began a recovery ride but crashed at Turn 9 five laps later; he remounted his ZX-10R, eventually claiming 14th place.

WorldSBK Sepang – Race 2
1 – Chaz Davies Racing – Ducati Superbike Team
2 – Jonathan Rea Kawasaki Racing Team +0.091
3 – Jordi Torres Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils +5.008

World SBK Point Score after round 10

1.  Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) 452   2.  Chaz Davies (Ducati)  308  3.  Tom Sykes (Kawa)  295  4. Leon Haslam (Aprilia) 259   5.  Jordi Torres (Aprilai )   186