WSBK: Jonathan Rea Takes his 98th Win At A Drenched Magny-Cours.
Jonathan Rea has splashed his way to take his 98th career victory in a rain soaked Magny-Cours, fending off efforts from Loris Baz and Garrett Gerloff.
Jonathan Rea made a perfect start off the line from his third grid-spot, taking the lead into turn one, avoiding a double BMW crash after their incredible 1-2 qualifying.
Garrett Gerloff made a handy start from fifth on the grid to contend for the podium spots heading into turn one, the American appeared too optimistic though, clipping BWM’s Tom Sykes left leg as he attempted a move on the inside of the Briton. A domino-effect ensued, seeing Sykes fall and collect team-mate and pole-man Eugene Laverty who suffered a huge high-side after Sykes’ S-1000RR clipped him. Laverty rolled viciously into the gravel-trap, being caught up with the bike. Both riders walked away un-hurt.
The Stewards investigated Gerloff’s turn one move, quickly determining it a racing incident and declaring no further action on the American, a decision that left Sykes visibly frustrated as the camera’s turned to him back in the box.
After the first five laps times began to fall into the 1:49s as the front four of Rea, and team-mate Alex Lowes who seemed to find pace again aboard his ZX-10RR, leading Loris Baz and Garrett Gerloff, who joined Lowes in trying to stay with the championship leader in the early stages of the race.
The chase didn’t last long for Lowes though, quickly becoming victim to Gerloff who surged into second spot and being the first rider to drop into the 1:48s as he arrived to the back of the Irishman. Lowes struggled to keep pace with the front three dropping 0.6s back with 20 laps remaining.
Baz made a move on Gerloff at the tight hairpin before the final chicane, sitting the American wide as the Frenchman set the fastest lap of the race. Gerloff wasn’t willing to give up, pushing the limits of his R1 at the turn 5-6 chicane, dismounting out of the race, making it a two way affair at the front.
Scott Redding struggled to make a good start in the wet conditions, continuing his struggles with the Pirelli wet tyre. Redding was in a lowly ninth position, seeing Jonathan Rea further extend his championship lead, poising him for a crowning moment tomorrow.
The race at the front continued, Baz making a move on Rea, but the Irishman was aware to it and successfully undercut the Frenchman to re-take the lead, a lead he would hold to the chequered flag.
Into the last 10-laps it appeared Jonathan Rea had more pace in hand, extending the lead from 0.5s to 1.4s on lap 15. Baz consolidated second in the final laps, seeing his challenge to Jonathan Rea fade in the latter stages of race one.
Redding appeared to gather momentum in the final few laps, closing the gap to Michael Ruben Rinaldi in eighth place, and making easy work of the Italian before setting his sights on fifth place. Redding began hunting down the pair of Toprak Razgatlioglu and the vastly experienced Leon Haslam,. Redding arrived quickly onto the back of the group in the final five laps. Any attempt of a move would have to wait until the last lap. Leon Haslam and PATA Yamaha’s Toprak battled hard on the last lap, Redding kept a watching brief, and his patience would be rewarded as Haslam had a huge high-side at turn 8, with Toprak having to take avoiding action and Redding taking fifth at the line.
WorldSBK will return for the Superpole race at 11:00AM tomorrow, forecasting another wet race. Will Gerloff be able to bounce back from on early exit in Race One? Find out on Eurosport 2.
Featured image credit: Kawasaki Racing Team