Jonathan Rea charged to an exceptional victory at the Magny-Cours circuit in France on Saturday to create history and become the first rider to secure three consecutive WorldSBK titles since the production bike championship began in 1988.
Thirty year old Rea, who hails from Northern Ireland, was supreme from start to finish aboard his Ninja ZX-10RR, crossing the line a massive 16 seconds ahead of second placed Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), with Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) finishing third.
The Kawasaki king pulled away from pole position and was clear of the pack early. He kept the hammer down over the 21 lap race in the wet-drying conditions to remain unchallenged at the front. His impressive performance delivered his 12th victory of the 21 races to date – a better than 50% win rate for 2017 – and his 50th win in World SBK.
Rea’s stellar season is his most dominant to date, with the Magny Cours win catapulting his points haul to 456 and securing for the Kawasaki rider an unassailable lead with two rounds to go.
It is a year that kicked off with a double victory at Australia’s Phillip Island, one of his favourite circuits in the world and a place of special significance in the Rea files. He is married to Phillip Island’s Tatia Weston, and spends off-seasons down under with his two half-Aussie sons, Jake and Tyler.
“I have no words right now.
I have sacrificed so much of my life, as have my parents and everyone involved in helping me get to this level. To win it, the championship, the first time, the second time and then go three times in a row, I cannot compute my feelings right now.
My thanks to every single member of the team and everyone from Kawasaki back in Japan. Most of all I want my thank my wife and kids who sacrifice so much.”
Said Rea after being crowned.
Magny Cours fans also saw a truly gritty ride from Rea’s teammate Sykes as the Yorkshireman returned to action with a third place result, having had surgery on a finger injury less than two weeks ago, after his last round crash in Portimao. Sykes completed the podium after just losing out on second place to Melandri in the final stages of the race.
Five seconds off the rostrum was Leon Camier for MV Agusta Reparto Corse, with Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) another 19 seconds back rounding out the top five.
Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) and Leandro Mercado (IODARacing) were sixth and seventh respectively, whilst Davide Giugliano (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) was the eighth rider home.
Early in the race there was a crash for Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), which also saw Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) go down, but remarkably Dutchman Van der Mark fought back to finish ninth, ahead of Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). Australia’s Anthony West was 18th aboard the Puccetti Kawasaki.
Race 2 at the Pirelli French Round will get going at the 4.411km Magny-Cours track at 1pm local time on Sunday.
Send your congratulations to Rea as the newly crowned 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Champion with the hashtag #R3PEAT.
WorldSBK Race 1 Results: 1. Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki 2. Marco Melandri – Ducati 3. Tom Sykes – Kawasaki
WorldSBK Championship Standings (After Race 1 – Round 11)
1. Jonathan Rea – 456 points (Kawasaki) 2. Tom Sykes – 327 points (Kawasaki) 3. Chaz Davies – 302 points (Ducati) 4. Marco Melandri – 270 points (Ducati) 5. Alex Lowes – 180 points (Yamaha)
Jonathan Rea 2017 Statistics
Jonathan Rea – Three-times World Champion 2015 (Kawasaki), 2016 (Kawasaki), 2017 (Kawasaki)
Career Race Wins: 50 (35 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 108 (66 for Kawasaki)
Jonathan Rea – Career History & 2017 WorldSBK Season Domination
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) made history by winning three back to back WorldSBK titles this weekend, taking victory with a stunning victory in race one of the Magny Cours round on Saturday 30th September 2017, to see the Northern Irishman crowned 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Champion.
A match made in heaven with his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR, 30 year old Rea has outplayed his foes since day one of 2017 at Australia’s Phillip Island and sealed the title with still two rounds to complete.
With his third consecutive crown held high, the likeable Rea from Northern Ireland but with a strong Australian connection being married to Phillip Island’s Tatia Weson, cemented his name in WorldSBK’s history books as the only rider to have one three-in-a row.
Beginning his racing career in motocross, Rea moved to the tarmac in the British domestic series. Making the step up onto the world stage in 2008 in WorldSSP, he quickly found his feet and moved into the World Superbike class with Honda – taking 15 victories overall.
Swapping to the green machine in 2015, Rea quickly adapted to his Kawasaki Racing Team Ninja, and secured his first WorldSBK title. Unstoppable, he took the 2016 title at the final round in Qatar, finishing 51 points ahead of team-mate Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team). Becoming the first champion of this millennium to secure back to back titles, he then went into 2017 looking to make history.
A strong winter of pre-season testing stood the 30 year old in good stead ahead of his title defence, and he began the season in true Rea style with pole position and a double victory around the Australia’s Phillip Island. Round two in Thailand saw his dominance continue with another double victory and pole position, heading to Europe with a 30 point lead in the championship standings.
With already such a strong lead in the standings, the rider from Ballymena didn’t show any signs of slowing down. Rea was able to stop British rival Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) around Aragon to take victory in race one, before continuing his stunning run of victories at Assen for round four, making it 7 wins from 8 races by the close of the Netherlands round.
Rea faced some tough competition in the mid-part of the season, with Davies dominant in front of the Ducatisti around Imola and Sykes victorious at his preferred circuit of Donington Park, but the champion continued with his consistency throughout the rounds, only finishing off the podium once in race one around Donington Park following a tyre issue.
Rea headed into the summer break with a 59 point lead following victories at Misano and Laguna Seca. Returning on track in August to the Lausitzring circuit, the wins went to Davies but Rea kept his top spot in check registering two podium finishes.
Producing a masterclass with a double victory in Portugal, the title outlook firmed for Rea, whilst his team-mate and main title rival Sykes was forced to watch from the sidelines with a finger injury.
Heading to Magny-Cours, Rea was fastest from Friday and was able to secure pole position as the rain fell on Saturday morning. The title fight was never in doubt, as the Northern Irishman put in a stunning performance to dominate the 21 lap race in wet conditions, to win by 16 seconds in Saturday’s race one – his 12th victory of the season – and secure his third WorldSBK crown.