Jonathan Rea may have already secured the 2018 World Superbike crown, but with several records up for grabs to finish off his season with a flourish, there’s still all to play for as the final round of the championship gets under way in Qatar.

The Kawasaki Racing Team rider has dominated the season, but could not quite stamp his authority on the final round: Rea opened his account with a crash in the first five minutes of FP1, though the time he had set on his first flying lap still held strong at the top of the timesheets for much of the session before being toppled by Eugene Laverty at the end.

Rea said of the crash:

“ I changed direction a little bit too aggressively and had too much lean angle on the dirty part of the track in FP1, before there was a lot of rubber down, and it was a slight mistake on my behalf”.

The British rider went on to add that he “did not have the best feeling in FP2” where he held the third best time, before he was part of a three way battle to end the day on top with Laverty, who went on to set the best lap, and his team-mate Tom Sykes, who he finished ahead of. Rea was just 0.183s slower than the Irishman.

After his dominance of the second half of the season, Rea was quick to point out how much more competitive Qatar felt, and he seemed to know what he needed to do to get back on top for Superpole:

“It looks like this weekend there are more competitive guys. Right now we are in the mix but we are not ahead of everybody. We are going to try to improve the set-up and we know the changes we want to make tomorrow.”

With the championship in the bag, Rea can still set new records for most wins in a season and beat his own record for the highest points tally. He has good form at Losail too, in 2017 he took his first wins at Qatar for Kawasaki with a double on his way to winning that year’s title.

 

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