Jonathan Rea is relishing a perfect start to his 2017 World Superbike season, after doubling up to win both races of the series’ opening round in Phillip Island. Extending his total race wins in the class to 40, it means he now also enjoys a ten-point lead over rival Chaz Davies as they head to Thailand next time out.
And despite even the first test of World Superbike’s new grid format seeing him demoted back to ninth after winning yesterday, it proved no challenge to the reigning world champion as he powered through the field.
“Its incredible – the stats are amazing to hear. But it’s also great to win the first race of the new regulations, because it probably penalised me the most yesterday by winning! It’s the best way to start my championship campaign. We worked so hard in the off season to increase the performance of the bike and managed to do that, and I’m looking forwards to the next few races.”
However, Rea didn’t have it all his own way, especially as he was forced to fight through from ninth, and the Northern Irishman admitted that the factory Ducati pair of Davies and Marco Melandri didn’t make it easy for him.
“Phillip Island is notorious for not being able to get away and making you win the races with strategic riding and last lap battles. I did that twice this weekend, and that’s really special because I can’t tell you how difficult it was.
“Chaz was riding really well behind me, and a massive hats off to Marco too, because his pace in the middle of the race when he was at the front was impressive. I knew coming into a last lap battle Chaz would be right there because this track suits their bike, and that makes me even more proud.”