Round 11 of the 2017 World Superbike championship certainly didn’t disappoint – which let me tell you – feels superb to say.
It would be an injustice to not focus on Jonathan Rea and the factory Kawasaki outfit creating World Superbike history first. The Northern Irishman finally wrapped up what we’ve known for most of the season – his third straight championship, becoming the first rider to ever reach that feat.
After claiming pole for race one, despite getting cosy with the gravel traps in Superpole, the 30 year old then left the others in his wake as he stormed to victory in immensely difficult conditions under French skies. The perfect race to confirm his place as one of the all time Superbike greats.
Speaking to British Eurosport after his triumph, Rea commented; “I dreamt of [winning] one world championship as a kid. It was all I hung on to through the sacrifices of my parents during my motocross days.”
“To get one was incredible. Then going back to back with the new bike was unbelievable. This one… I’ve no words.”
His outing in race two was cut short after colliding with Eugene Laverty’s stricken Aprilia, nonetheless, an incredible weekend for the-now triple world champion.
Davies first title is by no means far away. A DNF in race 1 was an all too familiar story for the Welshman this year, with inconsistent results letting the man in green run away with the title.
Along with Tom Sykes, the Ducati man has been the other stand out performer this year with seven wins under his belt. He’s shown he can battle and beat Rea. Now, we just have to see it happen over the course of a season and hopefully, we can see Chaz claim his maiden Superbike title that we know he deserves.
All credit to the 30-year-old who proved he isn’t going to slow up for the remainder of the year despite losing out on the title.
Ah, the Pata Yamaha team. I think I can speak on behalf of every World Superbike fan at least and say how pleasing it was to see both Alex Lowes and Michael Van Der Mark celebrate on the podium in race two. The Englishman, twin to brother Sam, secured his third podium of the season to continue what has been a very positive year for Alex, despite consistent podiums eluding him and the team.
His Dutch teammate crossed the line third to pick up his second podium of the season and like his team mate, van der Mark has impressed this year. The boys in blue have cemented their place as the best of the rest, with number 22 sitting on 200 points in the championship and the number 60 sitting on 189. The race to be fourth in the championship, in my opinion, will be the hottest battle out there in the remaining four races.
Moving onto Marco Melandri and like we didn’t know this already, but make no mistake, he’s still got it. He’s only had one win this season which came in Misano race two, however, the wily old fox has only failed to step on the podium at two of the rounds in 2017, Donington Park and Laguna Seca.
So what else did we learn? Leon Camier is the unluckiest guy out there. No one deserves a taste of the champagne more than he does this season after some of the performances he’s managed to strangle out of the out-dated MV Agusta. The devastation from both rider and team were clear to see after the bike gave up on him (again) whilst challenging for an almost certain rostrum in race two, one better than he went in race one.
There are strong rumours linking the former British Superbike champion with a move away from the Italian manufacturer, with Honda being the likely destination if the stories are to be believed, although MotoGP migrant Loris Baz is also rumoured to have that seat.
Overall, the Pirelli French round was an indicator of how great the series can be and still is. Yes, changes need to be made and seeing Jonny Rea win the title with two rounds to go isn’t great for the neutral but the genuine world class talent the series possesses shouldn’t go a miss.
Jerez is next up for the World Superbike circus, before they touch down in Qatar for the last round of the season at the start of November. It is rumoured that WSBK will no longer attend Jerez after this season, whilst Qatar looks set to stay.
Don’t forget to follow me on twitter @journoyork and make sure you’re following our new PitCrewOnline account, CrewOnTwo.
Image by: Yamaha Racing