Super Jonathan Rea ready to fight all the way for World Superbike title
Jonathan Rea begins his final push to fulfil a dream and become World Superbike champion at Jerez in Spain where practice and qualifying begin this morning ahead of Sunday's two races.
The 28-year-old Isle of Man based rider, who has a 144-point lead in the championship, requires just six points (a top 10 finish) in the first of the two races to become Ireland's fourth world champion.
If successful he will follow in the wheel tracks of Ralph Bryans (1965, 50cc), Joey Dunlop (five times F1 champion in successive years between 1982 and 1986) and Brian Reid, who was double F2 world champion in 1985 and 1986.
Since switching from Honda to Kawasaki for 2015, Rea's season has been exemplary - 20 races, 20 podiums including 12 wins, becoming the first WSB rider in its history to have clinched 20 top three finishes in as many races from the start of the season.
Following a seven-week break from the last round in Malaysia, Rea said: "It has been nice to have the summer break, but after just two weeks I just wanted to get going again, especially after the season we have had up to that point, just falling short of clinching the championship at Sepang in the last race.
"However it's been nice to hang out at home with my family and also keep in shape riding motocross quite a lot.
"Now I'm ready to get on my race bike again and with the guys in the team we will be doing our very best to put together a package that will allow me to fight for the race wins this weekend.
"We have all worked so hard for this moment and we will take each race as it comes and the championship will look after itself."
Closer to home, the David Wood Memorial Races take place at Bishopscourt tomorrow where the star attraction will be a rare home outing for Alastair Seeley riding his Superstock Tyco BMW Motorrad machine in the Wiz Racing Superbike races.
Seeley, currently second in the British Superstock Championship behind fellow NI competitor Josh Elliott, is a past treble winner of the Irish Superbike Championship and will use the outing as preparation ahead of the next British outing at Silverstone.
With just one point separating Ryan Rainey and Alistair Kirk the front runners in the current championship it augers well for some superb racing.
The David Wood Memorial Trophy plus £1000 will be awarded to the overall winner of the two Pirelli Supersport races with the main championship regulars Robert English, Robert Kennedy, Jason Lynn, Christian Elkin plus last year's winner of the trophy Nikki Coates, who competes regularly in the Spanish Moto2 series, sure to set the Co Down circuit alight in pursuit of this prestigious trophy.
A fitting tribute to Davy, who passed away in 2004, a man instrumental in many riders career both as manager and a charisma to attract many sponsors to the sport. He was also instrumental in introducing Supersport racing to Ireland through the hugely successful Regal Championship.
There's a quality entry for all of tomorrow's Motorcycle Road Racing Club promoted 16 races.
The memorial event has a £6000-plus prize fund and will also see many of the companies that David was associated with provide product awards at what looks set to be arguably the short circuit meeting of the year.
Practice and qualifying is from 9am with racing scheduled to commence from 11am.