Jonathan Rea resumes his challenge for a record third consecutive World Superbike crown this weekend in Germany following a lengthy summer break.
The Kawasaki rider holds all the cards in the championship race after an imperious first half of the season on the Ninja ZX-10RR, with Rea chalking up nine wins from 16 races to establish an advantage of 59 points over his team-mate Tom Sykes.
The Lausitzring circuit hosts the first of five remaining rounds in the 2017 title battle and Rea is in confident mood after testing in Germany a few weeks ago.
“I am really excited to get back to racing again after the summer break. Our test at the Lausitzring a few weeks ago was positive and I feel more confident about returning there after a difficult race last year,” said the Ulster rider.
“The track is very bumpy but we managed to find a good compromise with our set-up and I feel good about our starting point for the weekend.
“During the break I prepared myself for the next phase of the championship. The target is to work in the same way we have been doing all season.”
Rea sealed a race victory at the Lausitzring in 2016 as the World Superbike Championship returned to Germany.
Aside from Yorkshireman Sykes, there are few serious threats to his bid for an unprecedented third world title on the bounce, with Ducati’s Chaz Davies 115 points adrift in third, with the Welshman’s team-mate Marco Melandri 152 points behind Rea in the championship standings.
Italian rider Melandri has signed a new one-year deal with the Aruba.it Ducati team for 2018. Davies will also continue with the team next season as he enters the second and final year of his existing contract with Ducati.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty feels he is edging closer to his maiden podium of 2017 following his return to the World Superbike Championship after two seasons in the MotoGP class.
The Toomebridge man completed the two-day summer test at the Lausitzring last month and is confident he has made significant progress with the front-end of the machine.
Laverty, who will be making his race debut at the German circuit, said: “It’s bumpy like everyone says, but it’s fun to ride with such a mix of low and high speed sections and the bike seems to work well.
“For this track we’ve been working on corner entry and allowing me to attack the front more. As we improve that area the rest improves with it, and we’ve found that yet again here. I feel positive because it’s the same direction we’ve been going in recently; Laguna Seca was a good step and we’ve continued that.
“I’m confident that we’re heading in the right direction and we’ll be aiming for the podium. It won’t be easy but it’s in our sights now.”