New regulations working as Rea eyes home race podium place
World Superbike Champion Jonathan Rea is one of three different winners of the first four races of the new season with the new regulations having the desired effect of closing the field up and providing thrilling races.
Tomorrow and Sunday sees the series move to Europe, with the third round at Motorland Aragon, the home race for Rea's Kawasaki team based in nearby Barcelona.
Three-time champion Rea has a lead of two points over Marco Melandri, but since joining KRT in 2015 Rea has never finished off the podium at Aragon.
"Aragon is a great circuit and one I really enjoy riding at," said Rea. "This season we will have to understand how our bike behaves and how competitive we can be - but I'm optimistic. Step-by-step I'm starting to feel better with the bike and understand what is required to be fast. It's an important phase of the championship.
"Being back in Europe everything is more familiar and 'normal,' so I'm excited to see what this weekend brings."
The challengers to Rea's crown will come from the Ducati trio Melandri, Chas Davies and Xavi Fores, the two Yamahas of Alex Lowes and Mickey van der Mark, Rea's team-mate Tom Sykes and Honda rider Leon Camier.
Of course missing this weekend is Milwaukee Aprilia rider Eugene Laverty, who has arrived back in Ireland following his accident in Thailand. He is replaced this weekend and the next two WSB rounds at Assen and Imola by Davide Giugliano. The tough Toomebridge rider is targeting the Donington Park round for his comeback.
Meanwhile Andrew Irwin (PTR CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) is keen to get to Aragon after a World Supersport top 20 finish in Thailand saying: "Thailand was tough and not where I wanted to be. I had laser surgery on my hand (injured at Phillip Island) to help the bone heal last week and it seems to have helped. I'll be disappointed if I don't get my first world championship point come Sunday."
• International road racing has been hit by the news that three high-profile riders - Bruce Anstey, John McGuinness and Ian Hutchinson - are likely to miss the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT, leaving a huge hole in the top ten seeded riders.