Jonathan Rea might have hoped the 2017 season didn’t end for him. For, the Kawasaki rider not only won his third successive WorldSBK title with two and half rounds to spare, he also smashed many records on his way through a dominating year.
Last night at the Losail International Circuit, the Northern Irishman finished the season with another record to his name. The 30-year-old broke American Colin Edwards’ 15-year-old all-time points record with victory in Race 2 of the Qatar round of the WorldSBK championship.
Having already won the Race 1 on Friday, Rea needed another 25 points to rewrite the record books and that is exactly what he delivered. It was Rea’s 16th win of the season last night, which meant he ended the season with 556 points compared to Edwards’ 552 set in the 2002 season. It was also Rea’s 16th career double win, which equalled the total of both Troy Bayliss and Carl Fogarty.
“I don’t have words to describe. I just want to thank my family, my team and most of all my rivals Chaz (Davies) and Tom (Sykes) because they pushed me to improve, gave me motivation to work better, to get smarter. I’ve really enjoyed it,” said Rea, with his wife and two young sons joining in the celebration on the podium. “I now want to get back home and enjoy the moment because these times don’t come along every day. I want to savour it with my family and my team,” he added.
Rea had topped the short warm-up session ahead of the finale, and he was even more lethal in the race despite starting from the third row as per the reverse grid rule.
The Kawasaki man was handed the lead on lap four when Chaz Davies experienced a massive near-highside which broke his screen. Rea needed no invitation and swept into top spot.
Ducati’s Davies still bagged second in the championship chase as rival Tom Sykes of Yamaha crashed out, losing the front at turn 14 a lap before. Davies did close back in on Rea, but the world champion extended the gap and cruised home by two seconds ahead of Ducati rider.
Alex Lowes took the final podium place, bouncing back from his double crash on Friday to pass Pata Yamaha teammate Michael van der Mark with five laps left to run.
Mahias clinches Supersport
Meanwhile, Frenchman Lucas Mahias won his maiden World Supersport title last night. The GRT Yamaha rider was in a pole position to win the championship, having gone into the season finale race with a 20-point lead over defending champion Kenan Sofuoglu of Kawasaki.
An 11th place finish or better would have been enough for Mahias to seal the title, but he chose to win it in style after a long tussle with Jules Cluzel of Honda. The margin of victory was a narrow 0.023seconds.
The Frenchman had benefited from five-time champion Sofuoglu’s injury issues throughout the year, but he was consistent enough take advantage of it. Sofuoglu’s return from triple hip fracture delayed Mahias from grabbing the 2017 title in Jerez but there was no stopping the Yamaha rider last night.
Federico Caricasulo of Yamaha finished a close fourth, beaten across the line by the gritty Sofuoglu.
The Turkish rider was caught up further back in the field, fighting with the likes of Sheridan Morais (Kallio Racing), Niki Tuuli (Kallio Racing), Kyle Smith (Lorini) and PJ Jacobsen (Agusta) as he made his way through the pack to fourth and then chased Caricasulo down in the final stages.
WorldSBK Race 2 results (top 10)
1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing) 33:39.98
2. Chaz Davies (Racing Ducati Panigale) +1.961
3. Alex Lowes (Crescent Yamaha) +4.185
4. Michael van der Mark (Yamaha) +5.843
5. Xavi Fores (Barni Ducati Panigale) +8.987
6. Marco Melandri (Racing Ducati Panigale) +14.675
7. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) +16.251
8. Sylvain Guintoli (Kawasaki Puccetti) +19.675
9. Leon Camier (Agusta RC) +20.607
10. Roman Ramos (Kawasaki Go Eleven) +20.628
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