Rea only needs a top 10 finish in Race 1 to clinch the title at the Pirelli Spanish Round
Jonathan Rea is just six points away from the ultimate goal in WorldSBK: the eni FIM Superbike World Championship title of 2015.
Thanks to a truly dominant campaign on the Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R, number 65 requires only a single top ten finish to cement the achievement in the opening World Superbike race of the Pirelli Spanish Round this weekend.
The list of superlatives describing Rea’s 2015 campaign is becoming exhausted. The facts speak for themselves: 20 races, 20 podium finishes and 12 race wins. He has already become the first rider in history to have clinched 20 top three finishes in as many races from the start of a season and, should the rostrum run continue, he will beat Colin Edwards’ record of consecutive podium finishes in the first Qatar race.
Should Rea finish tenth or higher in Race 1 at Jerez (a highly likely possibility, considering the season so far) he will become the 17th different World Superbike Champion and the fifth different title winner in as many years. Fogarty, Hodgson, Toseland and Sykes may have gone before him as British World Champions, but all of them hailed from England; thus, Rea would be the first Northern Irish title winner.
The fight for runner-up spot is far less clear-cut. Tom Sykes has finished in the top two of the World Championship for the last three years (including his title, which he won at Jerez in 2013) and he wants to make it four.
What of this weekend’s venue? This is the third consecutive year that Jerez de la Frontera is a permanent fixture on the modern-day calendar. However, this is the fourth time that WorldSBK visits the sunbaked southern Spanish destination, which debuted on the calendar in 1990; Frenchman Raymond Roche celebrated both of the race wins prior to clinching the title that season.
Away from motor racing, Andalucia is known for its vineyards (indeed, it was dubbed Wine Capital of the World in 2013), sherry production and popular ‘Feria de Jerez’ horse fair, while Moorish fortress the Alcazar de Jerez and the Cathedral of San Salvador are just two must-see items on the list for sight-seeing visitors. There is also flamenco dancing, although this may be less evident in the WorldSBK paddock…
Spain itself is the fourth largest country in Europe, with Andalucia being its most southerly region on the mainland. Three Spanish riders line up on the grid this weekend: Jordi Torres from Rubí, Catalunya (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils), David Salom from Palma de Mallorca (Team Pedercini) and Roman Ramos from Santa María de Cayón in northern Cantabria (Team Go Eleven).
Watch out also for Manufacturer joy. Kawasaki could clinch the title in Race 1, with the easiest method being to win the race with the top Ducati finishing fifth or lower.
Opening World Superbike practice for the Pirelli Spanish Round begins on Friday at 11:15am local time (GMT +2). Follow each session as it unfolds via the official Twitter account@WorldSBK.
2015 eni FIM Superbike World Championship (10 of 13 rounds completed)
1 – Jonathan Rea Kawasaki Racing Team 452
2 – Chaz Davies Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team 308 (-144)
3 – Tom Sykes Kawasaki Racing Team 295 (-157)
4 – Leon Haslam Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils 259 (-193)
5 – Jordi Torres Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils 186 (-266)