Jonathan Rae (second left) trails fellow Briton Tom Sykes in this Superbike World Championships race at Donington Park last month as well as in the overall standings by 26 points coming into Round Six at Sepang this weekend. - AFP
SEPANG: After missing out on the podium in the last outing, Jonathan Rea of Pata Honda World Superbike is desperate to come out on top in the sixth round of the FIM Superbike World Championships here this weekend.
Rea’s four-race podium streak came to an end in his home round at Donington last month and, as a result, lost the championship lead to defending world champion Tom Sykes of Kawasaki Racing.
Rea trails in joint second place with 159 points as Sykes opened a 26-point gap after scoring a double win in the fifth round at Donington.
The Ulsterman, who was twice sixth at Donington, knows he needs to reel in Sykes, who has yet to race competitively at Sepang.
Rea too has not raced here before but he knows the track as he had done a test for Honda Racing back in late 2010.
“It was not the perfect weekend for us in the previous round as we really struggled on Friday and I think it carried through the weekend,” said Rea.
“I’m really looking forward to racing at Sepang because it’s not just a test for bikes but also a test of human performance as well because the temperature is going to be quite high.
“I did some testing there for HRC in 2010 – before the final year of the 800cc machines – and I really enjoyed the track.
“The layout is nice, it has got two very long straights, which we need to find a little bit more horsepower for them.
“The humidity will be quite intense at Sepang but I’m in good physical condition to tackle the two races,” added Rea, who had a lucky escape prior to coming here.
He was cycling in Tuscany when he was involved in a car accident.
”The car in front of me braked heavily to avoid a collision with the one in front. I could do nothing and I hit it, smashing the rear window. I was lucky ... I was taken to the nearest hospital by ambulance but I’m fine, I got away with a couple of scratches.”
The Malaysian round of the series will receive a massive boost this weekend with the presence of MotoGP legend Mick Doohan.
The five-time 500cc world champion will be the circuit’s special guest for the race weekend and among the trophy presenters on Sunday.
Sepang International Circuit are also getting Doohan to attend the autograph signing session on Sunday.
Besides the Superbike races, there will also be the Supersport category where local interest will centre on Mohd Zaqhwan Zaidi.