Courtesy of KRT – Kawasaki Racing Team
The penultimate round of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship will get underway on Friday 20th October for recently crowned and three-time world champion Jonathan Rea and 2013 champion Tom Sykes. Even after Rea’s unprecedented third successive title win at Magny Cours two weeks ago, and KRT also securing the Teams’ championship that same weekend, there is still a lot to play for in the final two events of the season.
As the second Spanish based round of the season approaches, at Jerez de la Frontera in the region of Andalusia, securing the Manufacturers’ title for Kawasaki is the immediate aim for the entire team, but both riders also have personal goals to achieve before season end.
Rea, who has now joined an exclusive club with 50 WorldSBK race wins to his credit, is out to gain more victories than the 14 he took in his first championship-winning season with Kawasaki in 2015. Currently Jonathan has taken 12 wins this year. He has also not quite managed to secure an individual race win at Jerez, which makes it one of only two current WorldSBK venues that Jonathan has not won at least one race at. His motivation this coming weekend, even so soon after his historic three-in-a-row championship success, is still at a very high level.
Hand and finger injuries for Sykes prevented him from competing at round 10 in Portimao and made things difficult on his return at Magny Cours, but he still scored a race one podium finish and a then a seventh in race two, despite not making the optimum rear tyre choice.
Tom’s grit and determination ensured that he remained second in the championship, with a nine point lead over third placed rider Chaz Davies. Sykes is now looking to maintain or extend that points advantage to guarantee a Kawasaki rider 1-2 in the final standings. One more podium for Sykes would see him secure 100 over his career in WorldSBK, all but one having been taken on a Kawasaki.
After the Jerez races on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd, which are scheduled for 20 laps, the championship will relocate to the Losail International Circuit in Qatar for the final round. The Losail action will be run under floodlights again but in a new initiative for this year the races will be held on Friday and Saturday, 3rd and 4th November, not the more traditional Saturday and Sunday.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks after Magny Cours and winning my third World Championship. Feelings are finally starting to sink in. I’ve been enjoying these weeks doing a lot of PR back in Belfast and visiting the Monster Energy Cup Supercross in Las Vegas as guest of Kawasaki and Monster. I’m very much looking forward to getting back to business and although I have never won a WorldSBK race in Jerez, I’m fired up for the challenge. The circuit has been resurfaced recently so Friday will be very important to understand our base setup. The latest feelings with the ZX-10RR have been great so I expect a strong weekend, where I’m expecting a lot of travelling support from Northern Ireland.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “We still have things to do before the end of the season and I am looking forward to riding again at Jerez. We have won there before and done a lot of testing there. I am definitely looking forward to getting on the bike again, even though I am not 100% yet with my hand injury. In my eyes, I am considerably better than I was at Magny Cours in the previous round. So that gives me extra confidence and motivation. Hats off to the team of people who have looked after me and helped me to get to this stage. It is unbelievable how far we have come with the injury in such a short space of time. In the approach to Jerez we need to do what we did in France again because I was pleasantly surprised in our pace there. It worked out nicely for me.”
2017 KRT Rider Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016 & 2017
2017: Races 22, Wins 12, Podiums 20, Superpoles 5
Career Race Wins: 50 (35 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 108 (66 For Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 13 (9 For Kawasaki)
Tom Sykes: World Champion 2013
2017: Races: 20, Wins 2, Podiums 15, Superpoles 4
Career Race Wins: 33 (33 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 99 (98 For Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 42 (42 For Kawasaki)
5 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016 & 2017), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
2 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016)
3 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016 & 2017)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 105 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 343 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 72 – second overall