Belfast Telegraph

World champion Jonathan Rea eyes up more history in big Qatar finale

 

By Roy Harris

Recently-crowned three-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea has two goals ahead of the final round of the 2017 series under the desert floodlights in Qatar.

One is to take his first ever win around the 3.363-mile Losail Circuit near Doha - and if he happens to win the first race tomorrow evening followed by the second on Saturday, he will set a new all-time points record in WSB.

The current record is Colin Edwards' haul of 552 points set some 15 years ago. Ulsterman Rea is sitting on 506 points ahead of the final round.

Rea's second aim is to score more race victories this season than he did in his first World Championship-winning year in 2015. He is currently on 14 wins, which was his overall total in that 2015 campaign.

Rea commented: "Following on from an amazing weekend at Jerez, we are taking good momentum into Qatar.

"This is the final round of the season and I want to finish well. I enjoy the chilled-out atmosphere in the paddock and the night-time races add a bit of excitement between the riders and teams.

"The layout suits me and there are a lot of high-speed corners, so it is important to maximise grip as the circuit is in the middle of the desert and early in the weekend there isn't that much rubber down.

"I want to finish the season strong, but whatever happens I think we can be well satisfied with the job done this year."

Team-mate Tom Sykes has his own battle to contend with at Losail as he is looking to ensure he scores enough points to finish second in the Championship. He is currently tied on points with Ducati rider Chaz Davies, with the Welshman ranked above Sykes by virtue of more race wins.

Sykes said: "After the injury sustained at Portimao, my hand is feeling a lot better now than at Jerez and I enjoy the layout and riding under lights. Right now we are looking forward to making sure we take runner-up slot in the Championship."

A Kawasaki one-two in the Riders' Championship would be the perfect end to the season for the Ninja ZX-10RR, a package that has been so dominant this campaign.

There is, of course, one scenario that could scupper Rea's attempt to break more records and that is if he decides to help Sykes to second in the series, something he did last season by pulling aside to let his team-mate through and take the points he required to keep Davies at bay.

Everything depends on Rea winning race one, and that will not be easy as Davies was a double winner in Qatar last year.

Meanwhile, Eugene Laverty will also be looking to finish what has been a difficult WSB season on a high with Milwaukee Aprilia, with two top-six finishes the realistic goal.

It was a tough weekend for the team at Jerez as they scored no points and they will look to bounce back with a strong showing under the lights in the desert.

Practice commences this evening, with Race One tomorrow at 6pm UK time and the final race on Saturday, also at 6pm UK time.

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