Belfast Telegraph

Jonathan Rea racing to double World title joy

By Paul Lindsay

He's normally super cool under pressure, but the next few days are going to be nerve-jangling for reigning World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea as he looks to close out his second title campaign with the factory Kawasaki team at Jerez in Spain.

"I really want this championship. To win one is incredible but to do it two years in a row would be my ultimate dream. So that's why I'm prepared to fight until the very last lap at the final round in the final race, if that's what it takes," said the 29-year-old Ulsterman.

Rea was crowned World Superbike champion for the first time in his career this time last year at the Spanish venue, which was awash with green and white and boasted a travelling army of 5000 Northern Ireland fans.

The Isle of Man-based Ballyclare ace is currently 48 points in the lead in the 2016 WSB series with just four races remaining - two at Jerez and the final two in Qatar at the end of the month.

So if he can increase that advantage by just three points over arch-rival and KRT team-mate Tom Sykes this weekend, he will once again be crowned World Superbike champion.

It all sounds very simple, but anything can happen in racing, as Rea found out to his cost at the Lausitzring in Germany last month.

Recounting the experience, Rea said: "The second race in Lausitzring was, quite honestly, one of the most important in the championship for me.

"With the problems we had in Laguna in race two, and then in race one in Germany, the momentum was starting to swing against us.

"We had a 71-point advantage in America and it came down to 26 after that first race at Lausitzring.

"So after last season winning the championship by more than 100 points, I was in a strange situation. I went to bed thinking, 'okay, my lead is down to 26 points and I can manage this second race in two ways: I can be defensive or I can seize the opportunity and take back my advantage in the championship', and that's exactly what I did," was how Rea explained his true grit moment.

With an 84th career WSB podium in race two in France last time out, his 19th of the season, Rea now enters the penultimate round with just one thing on his mind - closing out this year's championship.

"Jerez holds very special memories so I am excited to go back there," he said.

"This is the first opportunity I have to retain the championship, so if we do a good job we can achieve our target," he said with an air of confidence.

The World Superbike races at Jerez are split over Saturday and Sunday with both taking place at 12pm UK time.

*Superpole takes place on Saturday from 9.30am.

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