Jonathan Rea is aiming to maintain his stunning unbeaten start to the 2017 World Superbike Championship this weekend at Motorland Aragon in Spain.
The reigning champion has already established a cushion of 30 points over Ducati’s Chaz Davies heading into round three on the back of two magnificent doubles at Phillip Island and Buriram.
It has been a dream start to the 30-year-old Ulsterman’s quest to become the first rider ever to win the World Superbike crown in three successive seasons.
And although Rea admits Aragon has not been his strongest circuit in recent years, he was encouraged by his performance there during his first winter test on the new Kawasaki back in November.
Welsh rider Davies has won the last three races at Aragon and will view this weekend as an opportunity to claw back some ground on Rea, who was a winner at the Spanish circuit during his debut year in the KRT colours in 2015.
Following the first two championship rounds in Australia and Thailand, Rea welcomed the chance to return to his Isle of Man home to spend some downtime with his family, but the championship leader has his race face back on as he targets a fifth win on the bounce in the opener on Saturday.
“After the two flyaway rounds it was nice to get home and back into some domestic normality, especially with the kids. I have enjoyed a few days out riding motocross too so I have been having a really nice time away from the racetrack,” Rea said.
“I have really enjoyed the Motorland track since its inception in 2011. I have had one race win there but I have never been the strongest, so I am looking forward to taking the form we have had in the last two races with us into Motorland.
“Our first winter test was held there in November and we seemed to have a really good steer on things then,” added Rea, who finished on the rostrum in second and third in last year’s races at Aragon.
“I enjoy riding the Ninja ZX-10RR and it seems like it has been in the ballpark at two quite different circuits this year. I am excited and intrigued to get underway at Motorland to see where we stack up.”
This will be the first home round of the 2017 season for Rea’s Barcelona-based team and expectations are high, with Yorkshireman Tom Sykes also boasting a solid record at Aragon.
The 2013 world champion finished third and second last year and Sykes has qualified on pole at the Spanish circuit four times, from 2012 to 2014 and again last year, when he set a new pole record in 1m 49.374s.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s Eugene Laverty will be hoping for a turnaround in fortunes this weekend after a difficult start to the season on the Milwaukee Aprilia.
Practice gets underway on Friday with race one on Saturday scheduled for 12pm (BST) and race two at the same time on Sunday.