The compact 2020 FIM Superbike World Championship season will feature its penultimate round next weekend at the well-known WorldSBK circuit of Magny Cours, located in the epicentre of France. Jonathan Rea enters as the clear championship leader with his team-mate Alex Lowes looking to get back into the podium positions once again.
The second-to-last round will take place outside of Iberia for only the second time this season in what has been a unique WorldSBK campaign in terms of the outright number of rounds, due to the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic.
With three races per round in the modern era it has still provided 18 individual races so far. Rea has won half of the races during a season that has delivered no fewer than seven individual race-winning riders – including his team-mate Lowes early in his first year as an official Kawasaki rider.
This weekend offers Jonathan the first arithmetical opportunity to secure the Riders’ Championship itself, should the overall results go in his favour strongly enough. He enjoys a 51 point lead at present and if this should grow to 63 points or more by the end of the weekend in France Rea will be crowned champion no matter the results of the final round, to be held at Estoril in Portugal, in mid-October.
Of his five successive championship wins Jonathan has secured three of them at Magny Cours, in the 2017, ‘18 and ‘19 seasons. He has taken six of his all-time record 97 race victories in WorldSBK at Magny Cours.
Starting his 2020 campaign on the Ninja ZX-10RR with a win and another podium finish at the opening round in Australia, Lowes is keen to get back into top-three contention to move himself up the championship table after experiencing some tough luck in recent rounds. Alex is sixth overall, just 12 points from the rider ahead of him, on the eve of the French round.
None of the top teams in WorldSBK has tested at the 4.411km long Magny Cours circuit this season, which throws another unknown quantity into the pre-race mix. Changeable weather is always a potential factor to take into account in central France at this time of year.
Friday 2 October will see the first qualifying action at the Magny Cours circuit, which will be hosting a WorldSBK round for the 19th time. Racedays will follow on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 October.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “Magny Cours is a circuit I have a lot of special memories of in the past. Recently they have resurfaced the circuit so we need to pay attention to that. In Magny Cours we will face cooler weather conditions than we have for most of this season’s championship. There is always the possibility that it will be wet but we will just take that in our stride. Magny is different to the circuits we have been riding on during the season so far. It is very stop and go, with a lot of hard acceleration and fast changes of direction. We have been strong in those areas in the past so we just need to understand our base set-up and manipulate that as the track requests. I have been feeling good with the bike this season and I am excited to get stuck in. Of course, while we need to keep one eye on the weather forecast, the target is always the same - to win races and go step-by-step.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “After a tough race in Barcelona last time out I’m excited to get back on the Ninja ZX-10RR. It’s a new track for me with this bike but a venue that both Kawasaki and I have had some good results at in the past. As always at Magny Cours it’s going to be about adapting well to the weather conditions but I’m looking forward to the challenge. Overall, it doesn’t seem right only having two rounds left this year. I still feel relatively new with the bike and the team so it’s about finishing this year as strongly as possible and then building momentum into next.”
Xavi Fores (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) will enter the Magny Cours round in 15th place overall with a best individual 2020 season race result of eighth at the first Motorland Aragon race in late August. Valentin Debise (Outdo Kawasaki TPR) will continue to deputise for the injured Sandro Cortese. Chilean rider Maximilian Scheib (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) has undergone surgery to repair his recently injured shoulder and Spanish rider Xavier Pinsach will replace him at the French round.