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WSBK Imola, Italy: Rea ‘back to business’ with title push

Jonathan Rea says with a long stretch of the season still remaining he will stay level-headed preparing for Imola with his bid to extend his title advantage.
Jonathan Rea says with a long stretch of the season still remaining he will stay level-headed preparing for Imola with the continual target of opening up his World Superbike championship lead.

The Kawasaki Racing Team rider produced a near-flawless race weekend last time out at Assen to take a dominant double victory to extend his championship advantage to 45 points over nearest challenger Chaz Davies.

Having won five of the opening eight races in 2016, Rea says he heads into the Italian round of the season with the same mentality and is relishing the prospect of battling for more wins at Imola.

The Northern Irish rider is undefeated at the Bologna-based track in the past two years, claiming a double with Honda in 2014 before repeating the feat last year with Kawasaki, and says it is a circuit he has always gelled well with.

“In the past I have had some good results at Imola and some race wins,” Rea said. “After the amazing weekend we had in Assen extending our championship lead was great. But it is back to business this week and trying to keep that target in mind during every weekend now - trying to improve our championship position.

"As I said recently, it is not just Imola but these next three races are all-important because the races are week-on/week-off. It is important to remain healthy throughout these races and score points.

“I have always been really lucky to have a great reception from the Italian fans. I enjoy riding there. The culture, the food, the parkland track itself; everything seems nice and the layout is kind of like the tracks I grew up on in the British Superbike Championship.”

Early weather forecasts point to mixed conditions at Imola on Saturday and Sunday which could create similar challenges seen at Assen two weeks ago, where Rea produced a strong performance in the dry before a perfectly-timed pit stop in the wet-to-dry race two.

“The key to the weekend is set-up on Friday. We have seen how critical it has been in Aragon and also Assen with the weather change,” he said.



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