Winning again: Jonathan Rea takes victory in first race of WSB weekend at Laguna Seca

Jonathan Rea celebrates
Jonathan Rea celebrates

Jonathan Rea won the first World Superbike race of the weekend at Laguna Seca in California to extend his lead in the championship to 70 points.

The Northern Irishman, 31, overtook early leader Chaz Davies with 19 laps to go and extended his lead to come in three seconds ahead of the Welshman.

Kawasaki rider Rea is chasing a fourth consecutive world title to equal the record tally achieved by Carl Fogarty.

Rea now has three successes at Laguna Seca and has seven wins this season.

The Isle of Man-based rider last week agreed a new two-year deal to remain with Kawasaki until 2020.

Polesitter Davies set the early pace, but Rea was giving hot pursuit and then assumed the lead, always looking in control of proceedings thereafter.

Yamaha rider Alex Lowes followed up his maiden victory in the last round in the Czech Republic by taking third place, with Aprilia-mounted Eugene Laverty equalling his best finish of the season in securing fourth.

Italian Marco Melandri was fifth and fellow Ducati rider Xavi Fores completed the top six.

Rea went into the eighth round of the series in the United States having registered a no-score for the first time this season in race two at Brno two weeks ago.

A coming together with team-mate Tom Sykes put pay to his race on that occasion.

Before that, Rea had registered a 60th career World Superbike win, surpassing Fogarty's benchmark for the most wins in the series, previously held by Fogarty.

"That was a nice one. I was with Chaz at the beginning and then he made a mistake at 'the Corkscrew' and I was able to come through and keep increasing my lead tenth by tenth," said Rea after Saturday's race.

"I just kept my rhythm and tried not to make any mistakes, although my rear and front tyre were both going off by the end.

"Thanks must go to my mechanics for building me a new bike after I crashed in free practice."