| 15.6°C Belfast

Rea aiming for fast start in Jerez as World Superbikes prepare for restart


Jonathan Rea in action

Jonathan Rea in action

Getty Images

Jonathan Rea in action

Jonathan Rea is aiming to hit the ground running as the World Superbike Championship resumes next weekend at Jerez in Spain.

The reigning champion is fourth in the standings after the first round was held at Phillip Island in Australia back in March before the coronavirus pandemic forced a cessation of sport around the globe.

Rea, who signed a new multi-year deal to stay with the Kawasaki Racing Team in June, began the season on a winning note as he clinched victory in the Superpole race for a record 89th career WSBK success.

His team-mate, Briton Alex Lowes, leads the Championship by 12 points from Ducati's Scott Redding ahead of round two of the revised calendar, which features six confirmed rounds.

The Argentinian and Italian rounds from October 9-11 and November 6-8 respectively are yet to be approved, although it was confirmed on Friday that the British race at Donington Park plus the Assen and Losail (Qatar) rounds have been cancelled.

Rea (below), though, feels whoever wins the revamped Championship will fully deserve the world crown.

The 33-year-old - already the most successful rider in World Superbike history - is chasing an unprecedented sixth successive title in 2020.

"We have three races every weekend now, and the Superpole race may have fewer points but there are a lot of points up for grabs at each round and a lot of points to lose as well by making mistakes," Rea said.

"The key to my Championships has been to be strong every weekend and that's important. Certainly I hope we can have something like eight to 10 rounds of a Championship, and in that situation then you do have a lot of points up for grabs, which is good.

"It's probably more important than ever not to make mistakes though, because it's clear that we're not going to have the full 13-round Championship."

After spending lockdown at his family home in Northern Ireland, Rea participated in a two-day test at Misano in Italy last month, which he ended second fastest overall - two-tenths of a second down on WSBK newcomer Redding.

A further test followed at Catalunya in Barcelona earlier this month, where a World Superbike round will be held for the first time ever from September 18-20. On this occasion, Rea turned the tables on Redding, leading the combined times by 0.156s.

He said: "It's been a really good test to get my confidence back where it should be, and we really improved the bike with turning and especially in the hot conditions."

Compatriot Eugene Laverty will be equally keen to make his mark as he aims to retain his ride with the factory BMW team in 2021, with only one seat remaining after they signed Michael van der Mark.

The first race at Jerez on Saturday is at 1pm BST. On Sunday, the Superpole race will be held at 10am BST, followed by race two at 1pm BST.

Belfast Telegraph