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Jonathan Rea races to Superbike double

Willis Marshall

Four-time World Superbike Champion Jonathan Rea finally stopped the Alaro Bautista and Ducati V4 charge in World Superbikes with a convincing double victory at the rain-interrupted Imola round in Italy at the weekend, writes Willis Marshall.

Rea, who had to take the top step at the weekend to keep Bautista from running away with the 2019 Championship, did just that as he won race 1 and the Superpole race before the third and final race of the weekend was cancelled due to torrential rain.

"I needed that win for my confidence and my chance to take the battle to Alvaro. Im very happy to say the least, it was always going to be my race," said Rea.

In race one on Saturday, Rea made a blistering start from the off taking the lead going into turn three on lap one, and he was never headed for the remainder of the race.

By the end of lap five, Rea had opened up a three second lead over Bautista and Tom Sykes (BMW) only for Sykes having to retire a lap later with a mechanical issue leaving the way clear for Dutchman Mark Van Der Mark to move into third place on the Pata Yamaha.

There was no stopping Rea at the front however as he powered his Kawasaki to a 10-second lead with just one lap to go with Bautista now settling for second place with Turkish rider Toprak Razgatlioglu in third, after having fought of Van Der Mark and Leon Haslem.

At the line it was Rea who stood on his foot pegs and punched the air in delight.

Rea then made it a double in the Superpole sprint race on Sunday morning when he capitalised on a error by race leader Chaz Davis. Davis could not fight back as Rea took his second win of the weekend with Davies second and Bautista third.

Race three never got going as heavy rain soaked the Imola circuit and on the interests of safety the race was cancelled.

Rea's double win see's the Ballyclare rider move to within 43pts from Bautista with the next round on 7-9th June with the Spanish Round.

All the action now moves closer to home this week with the North West 200 getting underway on Tuesday with practice from 9.15am to 3pm.

That will be repeated on Thursday with the first of this year's races on Thursday evening between 5pm and 9pm, and then the main race day on Saturday from 9.30am to 7pm.

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