EL VILLICUM, Argentina – Jonathan Rea made history once again at Circuito San Juan Villicum, winning the first MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship race on South American soil Saturday in dominant fashion.
With Rea’s win, Kawasaki clinched the manufacturers title for the fourth year in a row.
After being clearly outpaced in qualifying by veteran Italian rider Marco Melandri, Rea took off with a vengeance at the lights, taking the clean line through turns one and two and quickly opening a gap with the riders behind.
Tom Sykes quickly moved into third, with good starts from Alex Lowes and Chaz Davies also pushing them up the ranks. There was disappointment for the home fans however, as Leandro Mercado crashed out whilst riding inside the top-10.
Rea’s prediction on Friday was that the race would be decided inside the last 3-4 laps, with big questions marks over how the World Superbike machines would respond to 21 laps around the pristine Argentinian track.
The reigning World Superbike champion turned out to be wrong as he consistently pulled away from the field to an insurmountable lead.
With Rea untouchable and Melandri sitting comfortably in second, all eyes were set on the scrap for third. Laverty moved past Sykes on lap five on the back straight, whilst a fourway tussle behind for fifth saw Lowes fall back behind Toprak Razgatlioglu, Davies and Xavi Fores in short succession.
The four caught up to Laverty and Sykes shortly after. Razgatlioglu bested Sykes on lap 13 and Laverty one lap later, with Davies crashing and skidding out as he also attempted to pass Sykes.
With Rea crossing the line a full nine seconds ahead of Melandri, Razgatlioglu managed to hang on to third and clinch his second World Superbike podium, with Fores climbing to fourth on the penultimate lap. Laverty was fifth at the flag.