Belfast Telegraph

The World is not enough as champion Rea aims for history

By Paul Lindsay

Newly-crowned World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea is back in action this weekend in France and, despite having already sewn up this year's title, there are a number of goals the Ulsterman still wants to achieve before the season ends later this month.

So far this campaign, the 28-year-old Ballyclare man has taken 12 race wins on his factory ZX10R Kawasaki and eight other podiums from the 11 rounds and 22 individual races. And with his team-mate Tom Sykes having won four races and seven other podiums, the British duo have given Kawasaki their first-ever manufacturers' title in the World Superbike series.

Isle of Man-based Rea still has his sights set on winning the final four races of the season, beginning this weekend at Magny-Cours. He is only one victory away from equalling the 13 triumphs of four-time World champion Carl Fogarty and Neil Hodgson, who was the king back in 2003.

With the weight of expectation having been lifted from Rea's shoulders since he clinched the title, winning the final four races of the year is not an unreasonable goal given his current record of top steps this season.

For whatever reason, control tyre supplier to the World Superbike series, Pirelli, did not bring Rea's preferred front tyre to the previous round of racing at Jerez, Spain.

It was plain for all to see that the Kawasaki Racing employee struggled through both races, and it's no coincidence that he posted his worst results of the year - despite wrapping up the title.

Not looking to get embroiled in the internal politics over Pirelli's decision not to bring the harder construction SC2 front tyre to Jerez, Rea merely said: "I think in France this weekend we can start again with a clean slate and I see no reason why we cannot battle up at the front once again.

"I have had some good results at Magny-Cours in the past. To win the World Championship is a massive goal I have been waiting to achieve all my life and I have not really let my guard down too much since I did it.

"I was quite busy at the beginning of last week but since I got home I have been trying to treat each day as normal and keeping it in the back of my mind that we have to work hard for the next two races. I really want to bounce back after being off the podium in Jerez and fight at the front at Magny-Cours."

Another record in Rea's sights this weekend is the overall points tally that fellow British rider Hodgson racked up when he clinched the World title in 2003.

The Burnley-born racer finished his championship-winning season on a total of 489 points.

Rea currently sits on 478, so barring a major disaster in France, the new champion will become the highest-ever British points scorer in World Superbike this Sunday.

Spanish ace Carlos Checa currently holds the record for the most points accumulated in a season, and his overall tally of 505 points, gained during his successful campaign in 2011, is also under serious threat at Magny-Cours.

Belfast Telegraph


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