World champion Jonathan Rea targets maiden win at Jerez

Jonathan Rea in action at Magny-Cours in France.
Jonathan Rea in action at Magny-Cours in France.

Jonathan Rea already has a record third straight World Superbike title safely in the bag but the history-making Ulster rider isn’t about to rest on his laurels.

Rea remains focused on adding to his haul of victories this season in the final two rounds of the championship and has outlined his goal of securing his maiden wins at Jerez in Spain this weekend and in Qatar at the season finale next month – the only two circuits on the current World Superbike calendar where he has yet to spray the victory champagne.

The 30-year-old triple world champ has chalked up 12 victories so far this year but Rea says he has more glory in his sights at the final two rounds of the series.

“Not that I’m setting any big targets, but it would be nice to win more races than I did in 2015 [14 wins],” he said.

“I think the record for a season is 15 wins by Ben Spies, but it would just be nice to win more than I did in 2015, because for me it was a special year.

“Last year was difficult, but this year has been amazing and to equal what I did in 2015 in terms of how competitive I feel would be good.”

Rea has been in hot demand since he clinched an historic third consecutive title with victory in the opening race at Magny-Cours in France at the end of September.

He has fulfilled countless PR commitments over the past two weeks and admits the magnitude of his achievement is finally beginning to sink in.

“It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks after Magny-Cours and winning my third World Championship – feelings are finally starting to sink in,” Rea said.

“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 a guest of Kawasaki and Monster.

“I’m very much looking forward to getting back to business and although I have never won a World Superbike race in Jerez, I’m fired up for the challenge,” he added.

“The circuit has been resurfaced recently so Friday will be very important to understand our base set-up. 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.”

Rea is tied with Australia’s Troy Bayliss on a hat-trick of championship triumphs, only one behind ‘Blackburn Bullet’ Carl Fogarty, who lifted the title in 1995, 1996, 1998 and 1999.

His current two-year contract with Kawasaki runs until the end of next season and in February Rea will head to Phillip Island in Australia as a heavy favourite for more championship glory, such has been his dominance of the series since 2015.

Fogarty’s record is the next natural target for Rea in World Superbikes but his immediate priority is the final two rounds of 2017.

“That’s the next number and of course my aim is to win next year, but I’m struggling to think past this year already,” he said.

“I have a one-year deal left with Kawasaki, which runs out at the end of 2018 and I have no idea what to do in the future.

“I know I’m not going to be racing forever and I’d be happy to do another two-year project, whether it would be still within Kawasaki or maybe I will have another target or challenge.

“But right now I am very happy at Kawasaki, they treat me really well and I really enjoy working with the engineers so I’m not thinking too much past 2018.”

Practice gets underway on Friday with the first race on Saturday scheduled for 12:00 BST.