Jonathan Rea will have to wait a little while longer to be crowned World Superbike champion for a second time despite finishing ahead of team-mate Tom Sykes in race two at Jerez on Sunday.
The Kawasaki rider, who conceded four points to Sykes after finishing third behind the Yorkshireman in Saturday’s opening race, turned the tables to take the runner-up spot, with Sykes again finishing on the podium in third.
The result means Rea’s advantage at the top has been restored to a commanding 48 points – the same cushion he held prior to the weekend’s penultimate round of the championship in Spain.
Rea will now bid to wrap up back-to-back world titles at the final round in Qatar in just under two weeks’ time, when two more points in the opening race at Losail will be enough to guarantee the championship.
Welshman Chaz Davies completed a sublime double on the Aruba.it Ducati for his ninth WSBK triumph of the season, the same tally of victories achieved by champion-elect Rea.
Davies blitzed the field on the Panigale and won race two by almost six seconds from Rea, who bagged his second podium of the weekend to end his podium hoodoo at Jerez, where he had never previously finished in the top three in World Superbikes.
Rea was much more satisfied with his Ninja ZX-10R after his team made significant changes to the engine character of the bike after he struggled badly with traction issues in race one.
“I am satisfied with the championship gap. We can go to Qatar in a relaxed mood and look to pick up the target there. To date we have had nine race wins and done a very good job,” said the 29-year-old.
“I struggled with traction front and rear today and Jerez is a low grip track. As soon as the grip went off I was starting to struggle a lot, although not like yesterday. We changed a lot on the bike for Sunday, including the engine character.
“I had confidence with my team that it was in the right direction and I think we made one step forward. The temperature was up today so it was quite a different race, and slower at the end.”
Behind the top three, Nicky Hayden again finished fourth for the Honda WSB Team ahead of Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Yamaha), with the top six completed by Michael van der Mark on the second of the official Honda machines.
Only Rea or Sykes can mathematically win the title at the final round in Qatar, which takes place from October 28-30.
However, Davies has hauled himself into the hunt for second position in the final standings, closing the deficit to Sykes to 19 points.