Round 9 Race 1 USA
The first 25-lap FIM Superbike World Championship race of the Laguna Seca weekend was finally contested between eventual winner Jonathan Rea and his KRT team-mate Tom Sykes.
Each had led the race on two occasions, with Rea upping his pace enough at the end to finish 0.819 seconds ahead Sykes.
From the start of the battle at the intense Laguna Seca circuit the action was close and combative. Overtakes were put in between the leading trio at the largely one-line circuit but on lap five podium challenger Chaz Davies fell and was unable to restart.
When the shadowing figure of Davide Giugliano also fell from third place the fight was on between Jonathan and Tom for the victory on their new model Ninja ZX-10R machines. Rea eased out his lead after re-passing Sykes with five laps to go. Pushing on in the dry but windy conditions.
With Tom close behind him at the flag Rea still extended his championship lead over his team-mate to 71 points – 368 to 297 – with one more race to come on Sunday at Laguna, before the start of the long summer break.
Earlier on Saturday Tom had won Superpole to earn his seventh pole position starting place of the year, and the 37th of his career. Rea had qualified only 0.055 seconds behind and was second on the grid.
“I think overall we had a fairly good bike set up but we just struggled with the last part of the turns and over 25-laps it adds up. I had to compensate in some other areas and that was not ideal, especially in the windy conditions. I think I am happy enough and I could not do anything more. Jonathan rode a good race and we just couldn’t get that extra little bit. We need to find a small change in the set-up tomorrow to improve in one area. Overall, I was happy with the performance at the start of the race and made some good lap times in the windy conditions. I think we have room for improvement tomorrow. Second is the best we could do today and second is not a disaster! We can build on this.”