Belfast Telegraph

Super Jonathan Rea now ready to be king of the world

By Roy Harris

World Champion elect Jonathan Rea is second, just two one hundredths of a second behind Kawasaki team mate Tom Sykes, following the first two practice sessions ahead of tomorrow's crucial World Superbike Championship races at Jerez in Spain.

In fact just 0.827 of a second covers the top 10 competitors in the heat of Spain's sherry region.

Ulsterman Rea is on the brink of winning the World Championship for the first time, with a top 10 finish in the first race tomorrow required to seal the title and follow Ralph Bryans, Joey Dunlop and Brian Reid by becoming Ireland's fourth world champion.

The 28-year old would seem to be in an unassailable position with six races remaining in the series, although everyone is well aware nothing in motorcycle racing is certain until the points are in the bag.

Following yesterday's two sessions, Rea said: "The temperature was so high in the afternoon here (it went from 31C to 48C) there was a lot less grip compared to the morning session.

"I would expect (the) early session to be the fastest of the weekend. We have a margin to improve on our base setting. We also changed to the B tyre and used it with a 15-lap front that was well worn and it didn't give me the confidence to push hard for a lap time."

The Isle of Man-based rider, originally from Ballyclare, has only had one goal this season - and that has been to win the championship.

He has pursued that aim with dedication and an astounding set of results having made the decision to switch from Honda, for whom he had ridden for seven years in World Superbike, to Kawasaki machinery in pursuit of his dream

Rea took the 2015 series by storm from day one and in the 20 races to date he has won 12 with his lowest results a pair of third places at Laguna Seca in California.

Following a seven week break in the championship, Rea is fit and ready to resume where he left off at Sepang.

"Coming into this season I was hopeful I could do pretty well as I had seen how the Kawasakis worked the past couple of seasons and that I could do a job on them," he said.

"I thought if I could win possibly six to 10 races that would put me in championship contention. To have won 12 is more than I could ever have imagined."

So will he just be riding for a top 10 finish tomorrow?

Rea continued: "My mentality all season has been to win every race I can and I will be going out to finish on a high.

"To not win a race or even be on the podium this weekend would be disappointing," Rea explained.

"There is nothing I would like better than to win the championship by standing on the top step of the podium and that is what we will spend practice and qualifying setting the Kawasaki up to do."

A third qualifying session takes place this morning ahead of Superpole scheduled for this afternoon, which determines the grid positions ahead of tomorrow's races, the first of which is scheduled for 9.30am BST with the second due off at 12.10pm.

I'm sure all local motorcycling fans will be glued to Eurosport in the morning, not forgetting a large contingent who have made the journey to Jerez to witness history being made.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph