Easy to run out of superlatives about the combined efforts of Jonathan Rea and KRT, such has been the form they have shown on the ‘old’ Ninja last year and the completely renovated 2016 version.
Nobody since Carl Fogarty before the turn of the Millennium has made back-to-back WorldSBK championship wins, however.
There again, even after losing a full 25 points to his only realistic championship rival Tom Sykes (KRT) after his first no-score of the season in race two at Laguna Seca, Rea enters the last four rounds and eight races with a full ‘Valentino’ of a lead – 46 points.
He had been 71 in front after Saturday at Laguna, so is the 46-point gap still too much for Sykes to hope to overturn by the final round at Losail, on the last weekend in October?
Recent WorldSBK history shows us leads like this can be overturned.
In 2014 when Sykes eventually lost by only 6 points, he had gained 43 points of a lead over eventual champion Sylvain Guintoli with four rounds left. So the turnaround was 49 points over eight races (four rounds).
In 2012, when Sykes lost by half a point to Max Biaggi and Aprilia, such a close finish really could have gone either way in the title fight so you can include that one as another one where a gigantic lead was overturned in the final few rounds. Sykes was 51.5 points behind with four rounds to go back then, so he made up 51 of them. And he made up 30 of those on the final raceday of the season itself… Not quite a championship winning change but a late surge of more than Rea is ahead of his team-mate right now.
So let’s not get the neutrals too pessimistic that a grandstand last weekend showdown is somehow impossible.
Unlike any previous year Rea can look with confidence to the final few rounds, for reasons he himself spoke of despite his obvious disappointment after his pointless race two in Laguna Seca.
“Even with 46 points it’s good because there’s eight races, so to finish directly behind my teammate in all eight races coming up, and we still win. So I think it’s more a case of we concentrate on what we’re doing, keep being strong and the others have to hope for more days like today.”
By Gordon Ritchie