Jonathan Rea has secured a sixth consecutive World Superbike title after finishing fourth in the first race of the weekend at Estoril in Portugal.
Rea needed just three points from Race One to secure the crown but the title was handed to him when nearest rival Scott Redding retired on the fifth lap.
Redding’s demise left the Kawasaki rider with an unassailable 72-point lead at the top of the standings.
The Northern Irishman is one win away from a century of career victories.
The 33-year-old could reach that landmark on Sunday when he competes in the Superpole sprint event and the second feature race.
Rea started from 15th place on the grid for Saturday’s race after a crash in Superpole but quickly powered through the field, working his way up to second after nine laps before having to settle for fourth behind race winner Toprak Razgatlioglu, Chaz Davies and Garrett Gerloff.
Redding’s slim hopes of snatching the title from Rea expired when the engine on his Ducati cut out.
Turkish rider Razgatlioglu was a comfortable winner of the race from pole position, enjoying a three-second advantage on his Yamaha at the chequered flag to record a second win of the season.
Rea continues his domination
Rea narrowly missed out on securing the title at Magny-Cours in France two weeks ago but went into the final round in Portugal leading by 59 points, with a maximum of 62 still available.
The six-time champion has won 11 of the 22 races staged so far during this truncated eight-round season, which has seen rounds mostly staged around the Iberian Peninsula, with Spain hosting four rounds and Portugal two.
The traditional curtain-raiser in Phillip Island, Australia on 29 February and 1 March was followed by an eight-month break because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Rea’s consistency has seen him regularly pick up strong finishes throughout the year to continue his dominance of the championship.
Last season he broke Carl Fogarty’s record of four World Superbike titles by notching a record fifth title in a row and has now added to that tally with his sixth title.
A seventh title next term would see him equal the sequence of consecutive titles achieved by Italian legend Giacomo Agostini in the grand prix world championship from 1966 to 1972.
|Jonathan Rea (GB)||Kawasaki||353|
|Scott Redding (GB)||Ducati||281|
|Chaz Davies (GB)||Ducati||242|
|Michael van der Mark (Ned)||Yamaha||203|
|Toprak Razgatlioglu (Tur)||Yamaha||200|
|Alex Lowes (GB)||Kawasaki||189|