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Rea is aiming to up the ante in bid for title treble

By Roy Harris

A huge contingent of local fans will travel to Donington Park this weekend for the sixth round of the World Superbike Championship to roar on Ulster duo Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty.

Defending champion Rea leads the standings by 74 points over Ducati rider Chaz Davies after scoring seven wins from the 10 races so far this year.

A good weekend for Rea would go a long way in his quest to become the first rider to win three titles in succession.

However, his rivals will not make it easy with Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes topping the list of challengers.

Sykes, yet to win this season, has an enviable record of having the most WSB wins at the circuit - eight in succession in the last four years.

Rea said: "This will definitely feel like a home race and I know a lot of people will be travelling over from Northern Ireland.

"It's a long time since I last won at Donington (2012) and I will aim to put that right.

"This is the main target this weekend. It is a challenging circuit to find a good balance between stability in the heavy braking areas and the agility in the fast flowing parts.

"Tom always seems to have a little bit extra at Donington and I do feel with some new set-up ideas that we will be able to take the race to him."

Laverty, on the other hand, has been having a problematic season to date on his return to WSB with Milwaukee Aprilia, culminating in his huge race one 'jump-off' at Imola that had a fiery ending from which he was lucky to escape unscathed.

Laverty said: "The second race at Imola was the first time we were able to move forward in a race and maintain pace at the end.

"I'm hopeful we can make more progress and take it a step further in front of our home fans this weekend."

The Monaco-based Toomebridge rider currently lies in 10th position in the Championship and will seek to make progress towards the top six.

Wildcard entry Leon Haslam, the current leader of the British Superbike Championship, will be looking to claim a few WSB scalps and is well capable of challenging for a podium.

The WSB community will meet for the first time since 2006 MotoGP World champion and WSB Red Bull Honda ace Nicky Hayden passed away on Monday after being involved in a cycling accident in Italy, and the WSB competitors will wish to salute him and pass their sympathies to all his family, fiancée Jackie, friends and fans.

The Red Bull Honda Team will compete, with Stefan Bradl their sole rider.

Meanwhile, with Lee Johnston having parted company with the Jackson Racing Team just days prior to TT practice commencing, there is a strong possibility that the Maguiresbridge rider could be drafted into the Team Honda squad to replace the injured John McGuinness and join Guy Martin in the team for the Superbike and Superstock races.

It was a surprise when Johnston departed the Jackson team following a good North West 200.

Josh Brookes takes the Supersport ride with Jackson Racing while Johnston has rides in the Lightweight TT on Ryan Farquhar's KMR IEG Kawasaki, and if the Honda ride does not go his way, he has the BMW Superstock machine he finished second and fourth on at the NW.

Belfast Telegraph

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