Jonathan Rea is a WorldSBK Champion once again as he successfully clinched title glory for sixth time after Scott Redding was forced to retire in the first race of the 2020 WorldSBK finale in Estoril, Portugal.
Coming into the weekend with only Redding able to overturn that deficit, while an uncharacteristic crash in Superpole left Rea on the back foot with 15th on the grid, he at least started ahead of his rival, after his own crash left him last on the grid and needing a run to first in order to keep his hopes alive.
The Kawasaki rider needed a mere three points (or 13th position at least) from any one of this weekend’s three races to put the championship out of his rivals’ reach for a sixth consecutive year, however when Redding was forced to retire with technical difficulties it became elementary.
While the end result was familiar, the run to this sixth world title has been anything but for Rea in a year characterised by the COVID-19 crisis that put a five-month hiatus on the season between round one in Australia and round two in Jerez.
With the season being played out over eight events – rather than the original 13 – Rea would also come up against a precocious new foe in ex-MotoGP rider Redding, who initially seemed capable of pushing the Kawasaki man all the way.
However, while Rea suffered a few missteps initially, even then it only briefly hampered his otherwise unfailing consistency, one that has seen him score a race win (among 11 in total) at every event this season. While Redding has pushed him hard, the difference is represented by his impressive but smaller five race win tally.
Indeed, while Redding’s occasional issues are symptomatic of a rookie finding his way, he has still arguably pushed Rea to a new level in 2020 and will be bullish heading into the winter that he can attack from the start in 2021.
Moreover, Rea is expected to have new machinery underneath him in 2021 as Kawasaki prepares to bring a new ZX-10R to play, which naturally could go either way in establishing more dominance or perhaps stutter that momentum.
Meanwhile, another title for Rea means Kawasaki has now won seven of the last eight WorldSBK Championships, bringing it to nine in total. It brings it closer to the all-time total of riders’ titles held by Ducati at 14.