Belfast Telegraph

World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea is homing in on World title

By Paul Lindsay

World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea will be looking to get back to winning ways with his Kawasaki Racing Team this weekend at Donington Park - a venue the Isle of Man-based Ulsterman classes very much as his home round.

Rea's phenomenally consistent podium record this season has brought five wins, five second places and two further finishes on the lower rung of the podium steps in third position.

That gives him a 42-point lead in the championship coming into this weekend's races.

But the reigning world champion and 2016 series leader is only happy when winning, and despite Donington Park not returning the sort of win rate that we have come to expect from Rea, he will be looking to take his first top step at his 'home' round since 2012.

"Donington is a track that I really enjoy," said Rea who will need to be at his very best to overhaul factory Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes, who posted a double at the Leicestershire venue last season, increasing his total to six at the circuit for Kawasaki - only equalled by retired four-time WSB champion Carl Fogarty.

Having completed his homework for the 2.498-mile undulating Donington Park track - which incidentally hosted the first-ever World Superbike race back in 1988 - Rea explained: "Watching the races back from last year it seems that the Kawasaki was really competitive for both Tom and myself, and that is positive.

"So far this season we have demonstrated the competitive nature of the new model already on some different circuit layouts, so it is clear that the package is strong," he added.

"At Donington this weekend we will be aiming to improve the balance of the Ninja ZX-10R and build into two strong races."

The 29-year-old may have gone four races without a win, but having led this year's championship campaign from the get-go in Australia back in February, and ridden through some development issues on Kawasaki's new model ZX-10R, the reigning champion will be looking to maintain his championship lead - at the very least - this coming weekend.

Resolutely proud of his Northern Ireland roots, Rea is anticipating a big local feel to round seven of the 13-round series with his 42 point lead in place at the midway point.

"The British weather is always a huge factor," he said.

"I'm hoping for some consistent weather, but either way I am excited to be going back to the UK.

"I have lots of fans coming across from Northern Ireland, so Castle Donington is going to feel like Belfast," said Rea proudly.

"I am really excited about trying to do a good job for Kawasaki and for all my fans that are making the journey."

Fermanagh's Josh Elliott, the reigning British Superstock 1000cc champion, will also be in action this weekend at the Donington Park circuit.

The British class will be run as one of the support races on the WSB timetable and the Ballinamallard lad is hungry to grab his first win of the season for Tyco BMW.

"I struggled a bit with grip and instability problems last weekend," said Elliott of his third place at Brands Hatch. In truth, the 22-year-old has struggled to regain the speed and confidence he had shown in pre-season testing, since his round one qualifying crash at Silverstone.

In turn, he has had to play second best to Buildbase BMW's Taylor Mackenzie and his Tyco BMW team-mate Ian Hutchinson on comparative machinery, so Donington Park will be a major test of character for the affable youngster.

"It's a track I like and I was strong there in pre-season testing, so my goal is to be challenging for the win," said Elliott.

World Superbike Superpole qualifying takes places on Saturday morning from 11am followed by WSB race one at 3pm and race two on Sunday again at 3pm.

Elliott and Keith Farmer will be in British Superstock action on Sunday at 1.15pm.

Belfast Telegraph


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