WSBK: Jonathan Rea gunning for Edwards’ record in Qatar

Jonathan Rea on the Kawasaki ZX-10R.
Jonathan Rea on the Kawasaki ZX-10R.

World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea is poised to put the crowning glory on his stunning season by setting a new points record at the final round in Qatar.

The Kawasaki rider is preparing for Sunday’s finale under the floodlights at the Losail International Circuit, where Rea needs 25 more points from the two races to better Colin Edwards’ all-time haul of WSBK points established by the American on his way to the title in 2002.

Rea has amassed an incredible 528 points so far this season, winning 14 times and finishing on the podium in 22 of the 24 races.

The 28-year-old has thrashed his rivals after switching to Kawasaki from Honda in 2015 and has only finished off the rostrum twice all year, scoring a brace of fourths at Jerez in Spain in September, where Rea became Northern Ireland’s first motorcycling world champion since Brian Reid and Joey Dunlop in 1986.

Edwards’ record of 552 points has stood for 13 years but Rea has the benchmark firmly in his sights and heads to Qatar on the back of a sizzling double at Magny-Cours in France - his fifth brace of the season.

“I have been on cloud nine since Magny-Cours and then joining in with the excitement of the new Ninja ZX-10R,” Rea said.

“I was lucky enough to ride it last month so it was nice to see the enthusiasm about it from everybody else. The feeling I had leaving Magny-Cours with another 50 points was amazing.

“Qatar was a track I really enjoyed last year so I am really looking forward to seeing how the Ninja ZX-10R operates around the track; then making a really good plan for each session with my crew chief Pere Riba to make sure we arrive on Sunday in a strong position,” added the Ballyclare man.

“Losail is a circuit I love and it suits my style. It also provides good racing as well.”

Another double this weekend would also put Rea level with Edwards on 31 wins, which would place him in joint fifth on the overall WSBK victories list.

The Ulster star, who will be a shoe-in to lift the Joey Dunlop trophy at the 2015 Irish Motorcyclist of the Year Awards bash at the Ramada Plaza in Belfast in January, remains motivated to sign off on a high in Qatar before switching his focus to the defence of his title in 2016 on the updated ZX-10R.

“I am excited to go and finish off an amazing season for me, for the team and for Kawasaki, having already secured the riders’ and manufacturers’ championships,” said Rea.

“It’s important for me to go into the off-season with great motivation... so I’m looking forward to trying to make sure we have a nice weekend.”