Can anyone stop Rea?

Tuesday, 18 July 2017 10:33 GMT takes a look back over the season so far

2017 has welcomed an exhilarating MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship fight so far, with glory, heartbreak, passion, drama and intrigue. Heading into the summer break, reigning world champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) leads the way in the standings by 59 points ahead of team-mate Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team). But with five rounds and 10 races still left to run, the season is far from over.

Rea had a stunning start to his title defence, as he won the opening five races of 2017. Narrowly taking the victories around Phillip Island – a circuit he hails as his second home – he then headed to Thailand and dominated around Chang International Circuit, before being faced with a European duel around MotorLand Aragon. Capitalising on Chaz Davies ( Racing – Ducati)’s mistake in race one, Rea then lost out in the second race of the weekend, no match for the Welsh rider. The pair came to blows at TT Circuit Assen in Superpole, but Rea did his talking on track by taking the double victory. Unable to match Davies’ pace around Imola, Rea secured two second positions before heading to his home round of Donington Park, where he finished off the podium for the first time this season. Bouncing back to take the victory in race two, Rea began a consistent podium run up until the summer break, taking his next victory in race two at Laguna Seca.

2013 champion Sykes has battled through some demons so far this season, and the Brit sits in second position in the championship, slowly creeping up on Rea. Starting the season on the back foot, the British rider was plagued by an intense illness which hindered him in the first European leg of the season. Despite this Sykes secured 13 podiums so far in 2017 – four of which when he wasn’t fully fit. Gradually working through the issues with his ZX-10RR, Sykes secured his first win of the season around Donington Park before taking his second in a lucky set of circumstances at Misano. With a steady and consistent season, he is fast becoming a favourite to challenge Rea for the title.

Davies has had a season of highs and lows, but his sheer outright speed and relentless nature is keeping him safely in the title fight. Narrowly missing out on victory at Round One in Phillip Island, Davies first stood on the top step at one of his favoured circuits, MotorLand Aragon. A strong fight back from his race one crash, left Davies overjoyed, something he is proud of this season; his ability to bounce back from adversity. A stunning display at his team’s home round of Imola – taking the gentlemen’s set of pole position, fastest lap and two victories – Davies has shown he has the pace. A horror crash at Misano left him with a fractured L3 vertebrae, forcing him to sit out of race two. But once again the 30 year old bounced back and stunningly won race one victory around Laguna Seca. Sitting 115 points behind Rea in the championship standings, he may be classed as an outsider on paper but heading to four circuits in which he dominated in 2016, he’s one to watch.

Stamping his mark on his WorldSBK return, Marco Melandri ( Racing – Ducati) will forever be in the history books as he took Italy’s 100th WorldSBK win in front of his home fans at Misano. Making a consistent return to the series, the 34 year old has secured seven podium finishes from 16 races, following some strong battles for that taste of Prosecco.  

Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK duo of Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark have had a steady first half to their 2017 campaign. Lowes has stood on the podium on two occasions, whilst Van der Mark narrowly missed out on the victory at Misano, following a tyre issue which saw the 24 year old crash out of the race.

Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) has continued to improve and impress onboard his S 1000 RR, and the Spaniard is another rider who was hindered by tyre woes in Misano, again preventing him from fighting for the victory. Consistently in the top seven, Torres will be looking to make the all important step onto the podium. Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) has also been making steady progress, despite being hindered with bike issues. Missing out on the majority of his free practise time in the opening rounds of the season, the British rider was still able to secure 10 top ten finishes, as well as some top sixes.

Making the move over to WorldSBK from the MotoGP™ paddock is always a tough challenge, and is one which Stefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) has grabbed by the horns. With a limited amount of development time with the new Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR SP2, it has been a steep uphill climb for the German, but he is gradually making some strong progress with the machine. The tragic loss of Nicky Hayden (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) has left a massive hole in both the team and WorldSBK paddock, but the series has been doing its best to honour Hayden in the best way possible – racing hard and giving their all.

Relive the stunning action from 2017 so far with the WorldSBK VideoPass, as you can look back over the eight rounds, as well as hear both riders and team bosses evaluate 2017. Action resumes in four weeks time for round nine of the season, at the German circuit of Lausitzring.