Rea Creates History With Third Successive FIM World Superbike Title
KRT rider Jonathan Rea won an unprecedented third FIM Superbike World Championship title in succession after a peerless display of front running in a wet first race at Magny Cours in France. No other rider had won three WorldSBK titles in a row before today. Tom Sykes (KRT) overcame recent injury and treacherous track conditions to finish third in the 21-lap opening race at Magny Cours.
A historic third championship win in succession for Jonathan Rea came after his 12th win of the season, which was also the 50th of his WorldSBK career. Has led the 2017 title race from round one, race one, and make sure of his ultimate title success after winning today’s wet race by over 16 seconds. Rea’s latest victory came despite the slippery conditions that changed from lap-to-lap as the skies brightened after heavy overnight rain.
Jonathan celebrated his latest championship success trackside with a three-pronged golden trident, symbolizing his three championships in succession and a special crash helmet design, before coming back to pit lane to celebrate his historic achievement with his team and KHI personnel.
Shortly before the first race of the weekend Rea had also secured pole position after a dramatic and wet Superpole 2. He fell early in the 15-minute session but quick work from his crew in pit lane ensured he would take to the track again, and Jonathan duly finished in pole position.
A heroic and ultimately rewarding performance from Sykes saw him start from third place after Superpole 2 and fight bravely at times to maintain a podium position, despite his recent left hand surgery.
Tom saw off an early challenge from Chaz Davies to keep himself a firm second in the championship as Davies dropped down the order. Sykes, the 2013 WorldSBK champion with KRT, battled again in the final laps, this time with Marco Melandri. They accidentally touched on the penultimate lap, as they rounded the long right hand corner of turn three.
Sykes only missed out on the second place he had held for most of the race by 0.350 seconds. This was Tom’s 15th podium of the year and the 99th of his long career.
One more 21-lap race will take place in France this weekend, again at13.00 local time tomorrow, Sunday 1st October.
“I have no words right now,” said Rea. “I have sacrificed so much in my life, as have my parents and everyone involved in helping me get me 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 all the team, every single member of the team, and everyone from Kawasaki back in Japan. Most of all I want to thank my wife and kids who sacrifice so much. To win this race was special. Winning a race to win the championship is not something I have done before, so I was important for me to do that. I also scored my 50th WorldSBK race win in WorldSBK as well.”
“Considering the injury I had I am just happy to be here, never mind get on the podium,” said Sykes. “At times I struggled with edge grip in the track conditions, and Marco Melandri had good side grip towards the end. We had a bit of a ‘kiss’ in turn three as out paths crossed, while fighting for second place. I was third today but if somebody had offered me this kind of result two weeks ago, I would have taken it. I struggle to put on my socks in the morning so I am not sure how I could manage to ride the bike! Thanks to Kawasaki for making it possible for me to ride and for making it as comfortable as possible for me to ride.”