Rea Fastest As Sykes Joins Superpole 2

Courtesy of KRT – Kawasaki Racing Team

Kawasaki Racing Team riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes had successful opening days at the French round of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship season, with Rea fastest of all and Sykes finishing tenth in qualifying, despite suffering a recent left hand injury.

After the first dry and relatively warm day of action at the 4.411km circuit of Magny Cours championship leader Rea headed up the field by 0.439 seconds, completing both FP1 and FP2 sessions at the top of the timesheets.

Rea’s strong performance on the Ninja ZX-10RR made for an ideal start to what could be a unique and historic race meeting in France. On Saturday, in the first 21-lap race of the weekend, Rea will have his first arithmetical chance of lifting the 2017 championship crown. If he does, he will become the first rider in the 30-year history of WorldSBK racing to win three titles in a row.

The closest title challenger to Rea as it stands is his team-mate Sykes, who returned to action today after a whirlwind few days of surgery and then recovery from finger and hand injuries suffered in FP3 at the previous round in Portugal.

With his injuries being suffered just less than two week’s ago Sykes’ recovery both off track and the free practice sessions have delivered instant results. He has qualified directly into Superpole 2, the results of which will determine the final leading grid positions for Saturday’s first race of the weekend.

At this point in the championship Rea leads Sykes by 120 points, so if results go his way in race one he could be crowned champion as early as tomorrow. Jonathan has six opportunities in all to be able to make sure of another title win before the season finishes in Qatar in November.

For Rea, Sykes and all the WorldSBK riders the immediate question is what kind of track surface they will experience on Saturday, as rain is predicted to take over from today’s dry and sunny conditions.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “We just put the package together today and the bike is working really well. I am just trying to understand which one of all the tyre options that Pirelli have brought here to use for tomorrow. I think we have a good idea of that already. I am feeling good for long distance and for a one-lap attack. Whatever happens with the weather tomorrow we have to be ready because it is the first opportunity we can have to win this championship. That is exciting for me but the target is to focus on the first race itself and do the best possible job I can.”

Tom Sykes, stated: “I cannot believe we have had such a good first day back after injury and I have to thank the surgeon, Dr. Jordi Font, and all the team for organising everything. Also thanks to all the boys here for making a lot of small changes on the bike – to make me feel more comfortable – and the physios and osteopaths who have been working with me. Obviously the situation with my hand is not ideal because it is such a recent injury and I am not able to get the bike through the chicanes as I would like. I am losing time because of it. Up until the point that everyone put fresh tyres on their bikes I was not so far behind the best times. That said, even with an injury the lap time is still there.”

2017 KRT Rider Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015 and 2016
2017: Races 20, Wins 11, Podiums 19, Superpoles 4
Career Race Wins: 49 (34 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 107 (67 For Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 12 (8 For Kawasaki)

Tom Sykes: World Champion 2013
2017: Races: 18, Wins 2, Podiums 14, Superpoles 4
Career Race Wins: 33 (33 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 98 (97 For Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 42 (42 For Kawasaki)

Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
4 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Sykes 2013, Rea 2015 & 2016), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
2 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016)
2 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015 & 2016)

Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 104 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 341 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 71 – second overall

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