Belfast Telegraph

Champion Rea wants double joy for Kawasaki in Argentina

 

Pressure off: Jonathan Rea in relaxed mood in Argentina
Pressure off: Jonathan Rea in relaxed mood in Argentina

By Roy Harris

Jonathan Rea may have a fifth World Superbike crown safely tucked away in his leathers but there is still much to be decided.

The 12th and penultimate round of the Championship takes place this weekend around the San Juan Villicum Circuit in the west of Argentina and Rea will set his sights on clinching the Manufacturers and Team championships for Kawasaki.

This is just the second year WSBK have visited Argentina and 32-year old Rea won both races in 2018 on his way to his fourth world crown.

Having wrapped up his latest title last time out in Magny-Cours, Rea can approach this round in a more relaxed mood, although determined to add to his record 83 Superbike wins.

"I am so relieved to go to Argentina with the championship already in the bag," he said.

"It means I can enjoy the last few races without stressing about the points situation and really enjoy the end to the season in Argentina and then Qatar.

"After the incredible welcome back home by all the fans and dignitaries I am really looking forward to riding my Kawasaki again.

"I am also looking forward to seeing the guys again after that rather special weekend in France. To do it with these guys, who have been with me every step of the way, every single year, is even more special. We were strong here last year and I think we can be competitive again."

Rea and his season-long rival Alvaro Bautista are safe in first and second places in the championship, but it will be a battle royale over the last two rounds (six races) between Pata Yamaha team mates Alex Lowes (279pts), Michael van Der Mark (274), double winner last time out Toprak Razgatlioglu (260) and Leon Haslam (239).

Lowes will be keen to stay in third and prove a point as he leaves the Yamaha team in 2020, joining Rea at Kawasaki while the Turkish rider replaces him at Yamaha, with Haslam currently with no confirmed ride for next season.

Chas Davies and Tom Sykes may be too far back on 223 and 209 points respectively although a total of 124 are still available.

Eugene Laverty, ninth, 12th and 13th last time out in France, has battled back from breaking both wrists earlier in the season, but will look to take the Team Go Eleven Ducati Panigale to the best possible finish in the final two rounds before heading to the BMW Factory team for 2020.

New Pirelli National Superstock 1000cc champion Richard Cooper has been confirmed to defend his 2018 Sunflower Trophy title at Bishopscourt on Saturday October 26, riding for Buildbase Suzuki.

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