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World Superbikes 2017 preview: Will Jonathan Rea claim third consecutive title?

World Superbikes 2017 preview: Will Rea claim third consecutive title?

21/02/2017 at 12:44Updated 10/03/2017 at 19:46

We glance at the runners and riders ahead of the 2017 World Superbikes Championship, with British stars expected to dominate again after winning 25 of 26 races last season between them.

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Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team)

Last season: 1st
Odds: 7-4

The Northern Irishman is targeting a third successive crown, but will be conscious of his dramatic tail-off in form at the end of 2016. Rea appeared set to coast home after dominating the first half of the season, but just one win across the last four weekends saw him nervously wait until Qatar to wrap up victory. However, he starts the season as strong favourite and will look to repeat his double success at Phillip Island later in February.

Jonathan Rea

Jonathan ReaEurosport

Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)

Last season: 3rd
Odds: 5-2

Chaz Davies heads to Australia targeting a seventh straight victory. He finished 2016 on fire and although it was too little, too late for the title, he is the biggest threat to Rea's crown this time around. Davies has already hinted at moving to MotoGP in 2018, meaning this could be his final shot at World Superbikes glory. He will have to step up his consistency, though. He finished off the podium on nine occasions last season; Rea failed to make it just three times (and two were retirements).

Video - World Superbikes: How the 2017 season looks

01:08

[2017 WORLD SUPERBIKES: All you need to know]

Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team)

Last season: 2nd
Odds: 4-1

Nothing splits your emotions quite like when your team-mate lets you overtake them. That’s the fate that befell Sykes in Qatar last season, with Rea allowing him through after he had wrapped up the championship with one race remaining. Sure, the act of generosity allowed Sykes to finish second overall – but it also highlighted his inferiority to his team-mate. He needs to recapture his form of 2013, when he clinched the world title.

Video - Champion Jonathan Rea helps team-mate finish runner-up

02:10

Nicky Hayden (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team)

Last season: 5th
Odds: 11-1

Hayden was the only man to win a race without a British flag next to his name. The American was well adrift of the aforementioned trio last season, but will try and build on his one-off success to close gap. ‘The Kentucky Kid’ has winning experience – you don’t triumph in the MotoGP championship, as he did in 2006, without special talent. But can his bike rival Kawasaki and Ducati?

Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team)

Last season: 4th
Odds: 20-1

Podiums in the opening three races last season hinted at a potential title challenge; two podiums in the remaining 23 races proved the 24-year-old is still a long way adrift of challenging. Still, he’s switched to Yamaha for 2017, will undoubtedly improve and is very much an unknown force.

Michael van der Mark

Michael van der MarkEurosport

Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team)

Last season: 12th
Odds: 22-1

The 2013 British Superbikes champion is entering his second season with Yamaha. However, he’s already conceded that he’s targeting a spot on the podium – rather than outright victories – so it’s hard to see that pessimism being converted into a world title. He’s shooting for a move to MotoGP, so this could be his last hurrah.

Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia)

Last season: 10th
Odds: 22-1

The Italian is this season’s dark horse – but he needs more reliability in 2017, with Aprilia confident about their ride for the new season. Savadori was hampered by six retirements in 2016, pushing him down in the overall standings, but he outshone team-mate Alex De Angelis as the season wore on. Expect improvement from the 23-year-old, but no title this time.

Will Rea make it three in a row? Will he be pipped this year? Have your say...

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