Jonathan Rea is dominating the 2017 World Superbike Championship but his results don’t tell the full story. There have been 8 races this year and in 5 of them Rea has fought wheel-to-wheel against Chaz Davies in the final laps. The entertaining rivalry between the two riders is starting to get nasty and tensions boiled over at Assen last weekend.
2017 TITLE FIGHT
As per the summary below, the large 84 point gap between Rea and Davies in the championship doesn’t reflect how close their battle has really been. The winning margin in the first two races of 2017 was just a few hundredths of a second!
- Race 1 : Rea wins. Davies 2nd place by just 0.04 seconds.
- Race 2 : Rea wins. Davies 2nd place by just 0.02 seconds.
- Race 3 : Rea wins. Davies 2nd place by 6 seconds.
- Race 4 : Rea wins. Davies crashes whilst fighting for the lead.
- Race 5 : Rea wins. Davies crashes from the lead near the finish.
- Race 6 : Davies wins. Rea 2nd place by just 0.4 seconds.
- Race 7 : Rea wins. Davies breaks down whilst fighting for the lead at the finish.
- Race 8 : Rea wins. Davies 3rd place.
Davies has only taken one victory but has been in contention for six. He sits third in the championship right now but will seemingly be Rea’s closest challenger for the 2017 title. Chaz will be well aware that it’s gradually slipping out of reach.
BAD BLOOD AT ASSEN
An incident during qualifying at Assen has added plenty of heat into the rivalry. Davies was held up by Rea on his hot lap and proceeded to physically remonstrate on the track. That was very surprising. The two continued the argument in parc-ferme afterwards and both moments are captured in the videos below.
In a 1400 word statement published after the weekend (and not in the heat of the moment) Davies made his feelings very clear. He suggested that Rea had been waiting for the opportunity to baulk him and “took it way too far”. Davies, who never referred to Rea by name, said “#65 was looking over his shoulder with intent from early in his in lap … it was clear for all of us to see. #65 knew I was coming and endangered both of us with his underhand games. Of course he will deny this, but the facts, video and Race Direction penalty prove otherwise.”
For his part, Rea said the incident was completely unintentional and Davies had no business “punching” him on track. Rea also explained that he was trying to diffuse the situation afterwards. He could probably try harder next time by being less defensive, but he did offer a hand of apology. In his personal column for Motorcycle News, Rea said “I prefer to keep my opinions about Chaz to myself” so there is clearly bad blood on both sides.
The top two riders in the championship are consistently fighting each other in last-lap thrillers and now there is plenty of personal aggro between them as well. It’s compelling to watch.