Jonathan Rea secured a record third consecutive world superbike title in dominant style today, taking a lights to flag victory at a wet Magny Cours in France.
The 30-year-old Ulsterman overcame a crash early in qualifying to remount and set a pole position time a second ahead of the competition. From the lights, the Carole Nash backed racer shot into the lead and was never headed – stretching his advantage to an incredible 16.3 seconds at the end of the 21 lap race
Behind Rea, Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes and Marco Melandri had a monumental battle for second place, with the Italian setting the fastest lap of the race at the very end to get past the Brit, who had ridden heroically just a fortnight after seriously injuring his hand in a crash in Portugal.
But the day was all about Rea, whose 50th career win makes him the first rider in the championship’s 30 year history to win three consecutive titles. He is now joins Australian rider Troy Bayliss as a three time champion, with Carl Fogarty’s record of four titles and 59 race wins well within Rea’s grasp in 2018.
“I dreamt of one world championship as a kid,” said Rea. “That’s what I hung onto through the sacrifices my parents made as I grew up racing motocross. To get one was amazing, to get back to back titles with the new bike was incredible and this year has been unbelievable. The bike has been working really good. I feel like it is matching my style and I want to thank all the support I have back home and all the team who have put me here, because our bike is really strong.
“I won my first title in Jerez but it felt hollow because I didn’t win the race. Last year I won the championship in Qatar, but Chaz Davies beat me in the race, and even though we had to get the job done in tricky conditions today I really wanted to be the champion stood on the top step of the podium. I’m feeling really proud, not just of myself but also the team and my family. We are such a tight knit group and we are in this together.”
Rea and the rest of the superbike racers are back in action tomorrow for the second race in France, with Jonathan keen not only to add to his own tally of race wins but to help Kawasaki in their bid to secure their third successive manufacturers title.