After his most recent double win on the Ninja ZX-10RR, at Portimao in Portugal, Rea raised his points advantage to 116 over his nearest competitor. If results for Rea and his rivals dictate it, Jonathan could leave France as champion for the fourth time in succession. It is even possible to close-out the title after race one at Magny Cours – if he grows his advantage to 125 points or more on Saturday, with five individual races left to run.
Only the legendary Carl Fogarty has recorded four WorldSBK championship wins but Rea has already surpassed his fellow Briton’s all-time race-winning total in WorldSBK, lifting it 66 in Portugal. No rider has taken four titles in succession.
Rea arrives in France in truly sparkling form, having won all six of the most recent races and 12 in total since the start of the season.
Tom Sykes, the 2013 champion with Kawasaki, is looking to get back to his very best form and record his first podium since round seven, and ideally his first win since Assen in April.
After suffering a sports injury in the summer break and missing valuable testing time as a result, Sykes will arrive in Magny Cours in better physical condition than he enjoyed in Portugal last time out. He is currently overall fourth in the championship.
In all, Ninja ZX-10RR riders have scored 24 podium places so far in 2018, results that have contributed to Kawasaki’s 73-point advantage at the top of the Manufacturers’ Standings. Kawasaki could win the Manufacturers’ Championship in France, if the combined results from Saturday and Sunday’s races give the Japanese manufacturer an advantage of 100 points or more.
Magny Cours has usually occupied a late season place on the WorldSBK calendar and as a result has been the deciding venue for many championship challenges in the past. Jonathan and Tom have won three races apiece on Kawasaki machinery at Magny Cours during their careers and the French circuit was the site of Rea’s 2017 championship-clinching performance.
At 4.411km long Magny Cours contains 17 corners, some of which are slow hairpins approached after extremely heavy braking sections, providing multiple overtaking opportunities. The undulations and gradient changes play a major part in the visual spectacle, at a circuit that is traditionally well attended on WorldSBK weekends.
First season WorldSBK regular Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) has already netted a podium finish in 2018, at Donington Park. Toprak is second in the independent riders’ rankings and ninth overall.
Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki), Roman Ramos (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) and Yonny Hernandez (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) will continue their own championship campaigns in France this coming weekend. Of those three Mercado is the best placed in the championship table, in 15th.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “I am really excited to go to Magny Cours, especially after the last races where our bike and package has been really strong. I have incredible memories from last year and this weekend marks the first opportunity we have to try to clinch a world championship. But, I am trying to put that to the back of my mind and attack the weekend like every other weekend – work methodically with my family, all the team and our bike to find the best race set-up we can. The weather forecast looks like it is going to be stable throughout the weekend. The target is simple, like at Portimao and the last few rounds, to go out and try to win two races.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “I am ready to go racing and I am expecting my physical condition to be better than it was last time. Magny Cours is a good circuit, which provides some big braking areas. I have had good results there in the past and I would like to be looking for a strong result there. In general it provides good racing because it has a log straight with passing opportunity at the end of it so it is generally nice for the spectators. The French fans definitely do get involved and there is a good atmosphere, which makes it an enjoyable round – especially if you get good weather.”
2018 KRT Rider Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016 & 2017
2018: Races 20, Wins 12, Podiums 17, Superpoles 2
Career Race Wins: 66 (51 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 129 (87 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 16 (12 for Kawasaki)
Tom Sykes: World Champion 2013
2018: Races: 20, Wins 1, Podiums 6, Superpoles 4
Career Race Wins: 34 (34 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 106 (105 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 46 (46 for Kawasaki)
5 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016 & 2017), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
3 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017)
3 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016 & 2017)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 122 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 372 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 79 – second overall