Rea Takes Championship Lead With Donington Triumph

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Jonathan Rea pops a wheelie as he crosses the finish line to win Saturday's World Superbike event at Donington Park. (WorldSBK Photo)
Jonathan Rea pops a wheelie as he crosses the finish line to win Saturday's World Superbike event at Donington Park. (WorldSBK Photo)

LEICESTERSHIRE, England – Jonathan Rea launched himself into the World Superbike championship lead with a victory Saturday at Donington Park.

Kawasaki’s Rea took the lead early on and never look back as he romped to a 76th career win. The victory, combined with a crash by Ducati rider Alvaro Bautista, allowed Rea to move into the championship lead for the first time this season.

A blistering opening lap by Rea allowed him to build a lead of a second over polesitter Tom Sykes, followed by Lean Haslam, Loris Baz and Bautista.

Rea continued to set a scorching pace at the front, essentially making it a race for second behind him. On lap six disaster nearly struck for Bautista, who nearly crashed in turn two only to recover and remain on his bike.

After eight laps Rea had a comfortable lead of seven seconds as Sykes continued in second, followed by Haslam, Baz and Bautista.

The wet conditions soon began claiming victims. The first was Jordi Torres, who crashed on wet grass at the exit of turn six. He was followed closely by Sandro Cortese, who crashed at the entry of turn six.

Finally it was Bautista’s turn. He also crashed in turn six in spectacular fashion, ending his race and effectively handing the championship lead to Rea as long as he finished the race.

Rea held serve and earned the victory, with Sykes finished second from the pole ahead of Haslam in third. Baz settled for fourth, with Alex Lowes taking fifth following Bautista’s crash.