Recently crowned five-time WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea and his team-mate Leon Haslam will take their official Ninja ZX-10RRs to Argentina this coming weekend for the penultimate round of the championship.
The 12th round of the 2019 campaign will take place at the Circuito San Juan Villicum for the second time in its short history, after the 4.276km long layout in the west of Argentina made its popular debut on the championship calendar last season.
The fantastic setting of the Villicum circuit is very much a known quantity to Rea as he won both races in 2018, on his way to world title number four. Having already wrapped-up title number five last time out, in France, Rea can approach the Argentinean round in a relatively relaxed mood this weekend. He will, as ever, be determined to succeed once he gets into qualifying and race modes.
Haslam is looking forward to his first trip to Villicum having heard positive things about it, and having watched the San Juan races on TV last season.
Sitting sixth in the championship right now Leon has six individual races in which to move back up the official rankings before the end of the last day of the season in Qatar on 26th October.
Although Rea is already the Riders’ Champion for 2019 the Manufacturers’ and Teams’ Championships are still undecided. Kawasaki and KRT currently lead each of those rankings with two final rounds to go.
With a modified time schedule for this round in South America there will still be the usual practice sessions and races for the WorldSBK class. Track action will begin on Friday 11th with two Free Practice periods. Superpole and then a full distance 21-lap Race One will take place on Saturday 12th October, with the ten-lap Tissot-Superpole ‘sprint’ race on Sunday, followed by a full distance Race Two.
Jonathan Rea: “I am so relieved to go to Argentina with the championship already done. It means I can enjoy these last few races without stressing too much about the points situation and really enjoy the end of the season. Last year was our first visit in Argentina and we were really surprised with the reception we got, the level of the track and also the fans that turned out. I am excited to go out there and see what’s ahead. I am also looking forward to riding the bike again. I think this is going to be a circuit where we can be strong. Last year we were certainly strong in some areas. I am also looking forward to seeing the guys again and re-living what we did a little bit last weekend – it was really special. To do it with all these guys who have been with me every step of the way, every single year, it’s even more special.”
Leon Haslam: “Argentina next and I have never been there before, so it’s a new circuit for me, and that is something that I am obviously looking forward to. I watched the race last year and it looked quite exciting and fun, and the track had a lot of character to it. Going to this circuit is a new challenge but it’s something that I am looking forward to. It was a bit of a hard weekend in Magny Cours, with a crash and a few issues that we were struggling with. I hope to rectify that and get back to fighting for that podium.”