Jonathan Rea is revved up for yet another record as season reaches climax
Jonathan Rea just keeps breaking records in 2017 and raced to a superb five second victory in World Superbike race one at Losail Circuit, Qatar last night.
Ulsterman Rea - already crowned champion this year - was totally dominant from free practice one through to qualifying in pole and then launching his Kawasaki to the front when the red lights went out to lead into the first corner never to be headed in the 17-lap race.
That was Rea's - and Kawasaki's - first win at the desert circuit under floodlights, the three-time world champion's 15th win of the season and 53rd of his career taking him into second position in the all-time winners list just five behind Carl Fogarty.
That keeps him on course to take the most points in a season record away from Colin Edwards if he wins race two this evening (6pm start UK time).
Rea said: "This has been an incredible season and I've ticked all the boxes. I cannot thank the whole Kawasaki family enough.
"When I joined them in 2015 I had 14 wins to take my first championship, won the 2016 championship and now with 15 wins and a third title under my belt, it's amazing.
"I had a lot of vibration near the end of the race and I thought the tyre had spun on the rim, but it hadn't, something we will look at ahead of the race. You know I'm just living the dream at the moment and all I want is to end the year healthy and happy after the last race."
It was a race of attrition behind Rea with Tom Sykes, fighting for second in the championship with Chaz Davies, losing ground to the Welshman, who finished second behind Rea and is now 10 points ahead of Sykes after the Yorkshireman finished a disappointing sixth yesterday having raced in second position for the opening three laps before slipping down the field.
Sykes had been in fourth, but lost two more places to Rea's fellow Ulsterman Eugene Laverty and Lorenzo Savadori in the closing three laps.
It was a great race for the Milwaukee Aprilias of Laverty and Savadori who were never more than a few yards apart throughout the race with Laverty snatching fourth behind Marco Melandri with Savadori fifth, Laverty just a second and a half off a podium finish - a definite step forward ahead of today's final race of the season.
There were two crashes for Alex Lowes while his Pata Yamaha team-mate Michael Van Der Mark also crashed out and Xavi Fores, dicing with Davies and Lowes for second, was forced to retire on lap 10.
Rea was in a class of his own however, as he has been all season, half a second in front of Sykes after a lap, stretching his advantage to two and a half seconds over Davies on lap five, leaving the rest to battle gamely, it was all about just how much the 30-year old from Ballyclare, now resident in Castletown in the Isle of Man, would win by.
The biggest challenge now for Rea is that he starts today's race from ninth on the grid thanks to the reversed grid format of this season.
If he gets a clear run on the first two laps then that record of most points for the season is well within his grasp.