With two rounds and four races remaining, Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Rea clinched the 2016 WSBK Championship with a fourth place in the first leg at Jerez, Spain, yesterday. The Championship was Rea’s first, and in only his first season with the Kawasaki factory team following six years on Honda-supported CBRs. A win in race one by Rea’s teammate, Tom Sykes, also helped lift Kawasaki to the manufacturers championship, Kawasaki’s first in World Superbike competition.
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In Race 1, Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) got off the line well with the team champion Jonathan Rea right behind him, followed by Ducati rider Niccolò Canepa (Althea Racing). In the third lap, Canepa crashed and was forced to give up several positions, whereas during the seventh lap Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing-Ducati SBK Team), who starting from the sixth spot on the grid had managed to move up into third place, passing Rea for second. Behind them in fourth and fifth place were Michele Pirro (Aruba.it Racing-Ducati SBK Team) and Michael Vd Mark (PATA Honda World Superbike Team).
During the 11th lap, Haslam and Vd Mark closed the gap on the Championship leader and the Dutchman managed to overtake him. In the thirteenth lap Haslam also got more aggressive, beginning to press the Northern Irishman for fourth place and even succeeding in overtaking him temporarily before the Kawasaki rider was able to come back. At the end of the race it was Sykes who saw the chequered flag first, followed by Davies and Vd Mark, with Jonathan Rea in fourth place to earn the World Champion title.
Between Race 1 and Race 2 the FIM Supersport World Championship race was also held, unfortunately without MV Agusta standard bearer Jules Cluzel on the grid due to an accident on Friday which resulted in a compound fracture of the left tibia and fibula, as well as a dislocated right shoulder. With his most competitive rival for the championship out of commission, Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), starting from pole position, easily dominated the race, further increasing his lead in the overall standings and making a serious claim to the World Champion title. Crossing the wire behind him were American rider Patrick Jacobsen (CORE” Motorsport Thailand), who is now lying second in the overall standings at 33 points behind the Turkish Kawasaki rider and with a five point advantage over Cluzel, and Lorenzo Zanetti (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) who strengthens the hold on his fourth place in the overall standings.
It was an excellent start for Tom Sykes in Race 2 as well. The British rider created a sizeable gap already in the first lap as behind him Chaz Davies and Jordi Torres battled it out for second place. World Champion Jonathan Rea was farther back in fourth place. During the ninth lap Leon Haslam managed to get by Jonathan Rea, moving into fourth place and a lap later Vd Mark also overtook the World Champion, relegating him to sixth place.
However, in the 11th lap there was a race upset: Ducati rider Chaz Davies overtook Tom Sykes for the lead. A lap later Jordi Torres, Leon Haslam and Michael Vd Mark also passed the Race 1 winner, and in the fifteenth lap team mate Jonathan Rea also managed to do it.
A crash in the sixteenth lap by Michael Vd Mark and Matteo Baiocco overtaking Michele Pirro for sixth place were another two important episodes before the win went to Chaz Davies, crossing the line with a gap of almost two seconds ahead of Jordi Torres and more than two ahead of Leon Haslam who finished on the bottom step of the podium. Jonathan Rea’s fourth place and Tom Sykes’ fifth place were enough for Kawasaki to mathematically win the Manufacturer Championship
Pirelli, for its part, finished the weekend at Jerez with encouraging signs and important information to continue its development operations. Contributing to improving the race time by about six seconds with respect to 2014 was positive, as well as allowing Jonathan Rea and his team mate Tom Sykes to respectively set the new lap record and the new track fast lap. In the meantime the riders will already have various new solutions for the rear available to them for the tests scheduled for tomorrow, but above all there will be new front solutions that could prove to be very important for improving the current range.
In Superbike various solutions were used by the riders. On the front the most popular tire in both races was the S1699 SC1 development solution, the one most used in 2014 and 2015. In fact, this option provides greater support going into turns which favours a more precise ride. The début of the new T1616 was also good, an SC1 compound tire that had never before been brought to the races but which the riders had tested during the tests at Portimão in June and which was quite popular here at Jerez thanks to its greater stability and precision with respect to the standard SC1. Six riders in all used this second solution, including the two Kawasaki standard bearers, Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea.
On the rear the two available solutions were more or less equally popular with the riders. Chosen by about 3/5 of the riders, the T0611 SC0 development solution was introduced at Imola and then also brought to Portimão, Misano, Laguna Seca and Sepang. It uses a very soft compound which is able to provide an extremely high level of grip if used at high temperatures. On the first four rows of the grid all the riders used this solution with the exception of Canepa, Baiocco and Salom. The riders who did not use this tire opted for the Standard SC0.
The 2015 Pirelli statistics for the Jerez round:
• Total number of tires Pirelli brought: 4282
• Number of solutions (dry, intermediate and wet) for the Superbike class: 5 front and 5 rear
• Number of tires available for each Superbike rider: 35 front and 29 rear
• Number of solutions for the Supersport class (dry, intermediate and wet): 5 front and 5 rear
• Number of tires available for each Supersport rider: 24 front and 26 rear
• Temperature in Race 1: air 25° C, asphalt 29° C
• Temperature in Race 2: air 29° C, asphalt 43° C
• Maximum race speed reached by Pirelli DIABLO™ Superbike tires: 276.9 kms/h, in Race 1 by Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) at 9th lap.
• Maximum race speed reached by Pirelli DIABLO™ Supercorsa tires in Supersport: 245.5 kms/h, by Kyle Smith (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) at 2nd lap.