wsBK: Portugal and France
Jonathan Rea, the Northern Irish Kawasaki rider, wins his third championship with the green team
TWelVe tOP place finishes, including four double wins, and 20 podium finishes have enabled Jonathan Rea of Kawasaki Racing Team to claim his third WSBK title. The battle among Jonathan Rea, his team-mate, Tom Sykes, and Aruba.it Ducati rider Chaz Davies started in Australia where Rea dominated the grid by winning both the races on the
weekend. His rivals, however, were not far off; for they too followed him on the podium. Two weeks later, the Northern Irish rider and defending champion went on to repeat the same results in Thailand at the Buriram Circuit.
The fight among the top three riders intensified as WSBK moved from country to country but Rea always managed to find himself on the podium. In the third round in Spain, Rea was able to win the first race. Race two, however, saw Davies reign supreme, relegating Rea to P2 on the podium. Rea made a strong comeback at TT Assen, winning both the race and gaining some serious points for the championship.
Until the Portuguese round, the championship was open; however, Rea was in a different zone altogether at Portimao. He obliterated the competition by claiming a rather easy double victory which saw him go from lights to chequered flag in a flawless way in both the races. His closest rival and Aruba.it Ducati rider, Chaz Davies, tried his best to haul the champ in race one and extend the fight further; however, he only managed to get a second-place finish in race one. In race
two, Rea again was flawless in his riding, though Davies again tried to fight the champ the Welsh rider crashed out of the race three laps before the chequered flag. This allowed Pata Yamaha rider Michael van der Mark to claim second with Marco Melandri completing the top three.
Rea had almost closed the championship at Portimao but it was now time for him to seal the deal, which he did at the 11th round. In France, the stage was set for Rea to take his third championship as the riders lined up at the start-finish at Magny Cours. Rea’s team-mate, Tom Sykes, who sat out of the Portimao round owing to an injured finger, made his comeback in France and, as the lights went out, the Kawasaki duo took off like a rocket. Davies was in the contention at the beginning of race one but he ran into trouble when electronic gremlins plagued his Panigale, forcing him to slow down. Nevertheless, the second Ducati, ridden by Marco Melandri, kept the fight alive throughout the race. Marco was running in P3 for most of the race; however, on the last lap, the Italian overtook Tom Sykes to bag the second place. When the dust settled, it was Jonathan Rea who was celebrating as he had just claimed his third consecutive WSBK title to the delight of all his fans and fellow Northern Irish people.
Rea might have been happy with his race one results and championship title but his bitter rival, Chaz Davies, was the one who celebrated at the end of race two by winning it. The Welsh rider made a superb comeback in race two after a disappointing 10th-place finish in race one. He quickly slipped into the lead, followed by the two Pata Yamaha R1s of Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark. Rea, however, crashed out of the race early on. At the end it was Kawasaki who celebrated their manufacturers’ title as Tom Sykes managed to finish seventh, just enough to earn the team the 2017 manufacturers’ title.
The second place in the riders’ championship is still open as Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes is only nine points ahead of Chaz Davies. With such a slim margin between the two and two more rounds to go, we are sure that Davies will try his best to bag the second spot in the championship.