WSBK Indonesia: Title glory 'not outside realms of possibility' for underdog Jonathan Rea
Jonathan Rea knows better than anyone how title pressure can lead to uncharacteristic mistakes as he weighs up his prospects of winning the World Superbike crown for a seventh consecutive year.
The Northern Ireland rider goes into Saturday's first race (0700 GMT) of the championship finale at the brand new Mandalika International Street Circuit in Indonesia trailing Turkey’s Toprak Razgatlioglu by 30 points.
With the odds stacked against him, Rea says he has ‘nothing to lose’ as he focuses on going all-out to win the last three races of the 2021 season, to give himself the best possible chance should his 25-year-old rival be adversely affected by the weight of expectation.
Yamaha contender Razgatlioglu is a heavy favourite to become Turkey’s first World Superbike champion, but Rea and his Kawasaki team will fight tooth and nail for every point as one of the most compelling title duels for many years reaches a conclusion.
“One hundred per-cent,” said Rea, asked if will need a little bit of luck on his side.
“But I’m feeling really positive about it because I’ve been on the other side and I went into the final round at Estoril last year when (Scott) Redding was something like 59 points behind and there was only 62 up for grabs, but I still felt the pressure. I crashed in Superpole and I rode terrible in race one until the race was won, so I know how it feels to be in that position.
“So I’m going there with nothing to lose, to a new circuit, and I can go out and win the championship by winning two races and Toprak being fourth in two races, which is not outside the realms of possibility.”
Rea has dominated World Superbikes after making the move to Kawasaki for 2015, when he became Northern Ireland’s first motorcycling world champion since Joey Dunlop and Brian Reid in 1986.
His maiden world crown will always hold a special place in his heart, but the 34-year-old admits a seventh title would come close to being his best if he manages to overcome the odds.
“I think the first one is always the most important to you but emotionally it would be one of my best, but we’ll go out and see what we can do first before we get carried away thinking about it,” he said.
“I’m pretty numb to any outcome at the moment because I’m just focused on doing the best I can in each and every event.”
Razgatlioglu topped the times overall in free practice on day one on Friday, 0.174s ahead of Rea, with American Garrett Gerloff third.
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