The Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola will host round five of the Motul FIM Superbike World Championship this weekend, with defending champion Jonathan Rea enjoying a 30-point lead over the rest of the field.
Rea claimed victory in race one and second in race two last time out at Assen, with nearest rival Chaz Davies on the factory Ducati claiming third and fifth. Rea’s team-mate Tom Sykes had a welcome return to form at Assen, claiming victory in race two – it was the ex-world champion’s first podium since the opening race of the season, a run of six races without a top three finish.
The podium was Sykes’ 101st for Kawasaki, eclipsing the previous record for most podiums for a rider with a single manufacturer, which was previously held by Carl Fogarty with Ducati, a record which had stood for more than 18 years. Kawasaki’s Sykes and Rea are the only riders with 10 podiums at the Italian circuit.
Amazingly, since 2012 riders have always claimed victory in both races at Imola; Carlos Checa in 2012, Sykes in 2013, Rea in 2014 and 2015 and Davies for the past two years.
This also means that the last 10 races at the circuit have been won by British riders. Davies has been the dominant force in recent years on the Ducati Panigale R. As well as winning the last four races, the Welshman also holds the pole-setting, race and lap records at the circuit.