Jonathan Rea on cusp of double century podium feat
Jonathan Rea is poised to reach another milestone this weekend as he closes in on a record double century of World Superbike podiums.
The six-time champion clinched his 199th top-three result in the previous round as he won all three races at Assen to open up a 37-point lead in the standings.
Round six of the series at the new WSBK venue of Most in the Czech Republic presents a new challenge, but Rea and his Kawasaki team will be in buoyant mood following an excellent weekend at Assen a fortnight ago.
Rea said: “It is always exciting going to a new circuit. Most is completely unknown to me and the team.
“Going to any new circuit I would study previous races, either MotoGP or past races of WorldSBK, but even after scouring the internet for footage it is very difficult to find race coverage of Most.
“The layout looks nice – some fast and flowing corners – so it is exciting to learn something new.
“When I arrive I will do some laps with my bicycle and do a track walk with my team.
“The base set-up of our bike is in a really good window and on Friday it will be very important to find a good set-up and a rhythm straight away.”
The 34-year-old says he enjoys the pressure that comes with learning a new circuit and is eager to build on the momentum of his Assen hat-trick, and put more daylight between himself and his rivals at the top of the championship table.
“Step-by-step we will get ready for the race,” said Rea.
“We do not have much time in practice but I enjoy that - being under pressure. I am looking forward to seeing what we can do.
“We had a great weekend in Assen so it would be nice to carry on with that momentum behind us.”
Rea has 243 points after five rounds of the scheduled 13-round calendar, with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) on 206 and Ducati’s Scott Redding in third on 162.
The Northern Ireland rider is on course for a magnificent seventh successive world crown this year and has won eight of the 15 races held so far, giving him 107 career WSBK victories in total.
Free practice commences on Friday with race one scheduled for 13:00 BST on Saturday following Superpole qualifying.
Sunday’s Superpole race is at 10:00 BST with race two at 14:15 BST.
Eugene Laverty will miss a second consecutive World Superbike round as his RC Squadra Corse satellite BMW team continues an internal restructuring process.
The former championship runner-up missed round five at Assen and will also be absent this weekend for the Czech round.
It has been a frustrating time for the 35-year-old Northern Ireland rider, but Laverty has vowed to come back stronger on the new M1000RR when the team is in a position to return.
“It’s so tough to be sat on the sidelines and miss these vital rounds of the championship,” he said.
“The plan is to return to racing as soon as possible when the team has had time to regroup.
“RC Squadra Corse is a new team and 2021 has proven to be a tough year for any new venture starting out. We won’t give up and we will aim to come back stronger.
“In the meantime I’ll continue to test for BMW, so I’ll remain sharp and ready for my return to racing as soon as possible.”
After this weekend, round seven will take place at Navarra in northern Spain, another new venue on the World Superbike calendar, from August 20-22.