World Superbikes: Champion Jonathan Rea equals season wins record in Qatar

Jonathan Rea has already secured a fourth successive World Superbike title this year
Jonathan Rea extended his record run of race wins to 11 with his Doha victory

Champion Jonathan Rea matched Doug Polen's 1991 record of 17 wins in a World Superbike season as he took Race One victory in Qatar.

The 31-year-old Northern Irishman's victory extended his record run of successive wins in the series to 11.

Four-time world champion Rea will have the chance to set a new season wins mark in Race Two in Doha on Saturday.

Rea was 1.42 seconds ahead of Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes with another Englishman Alex Lowes in third spot.

The champion led from the start - although he was put under some pressure by Huddersfield man Sykes over the early laps.

"I had my eye on this 17-win thing because everyone was talking about it," Rea told Eurosport.

"I can't quite believe it. I'm very fortunate to be in this position where the team give me such a good bike."

A fourth-place finish or better in Saturday's final race of the campaign will also see Rea exceed his previous World Superbike points record of 556.

His double win at the new El Villicum circuit in Argentina earlier this month saw him better the previous run of consecutive race wins set by Neil Hodgson and Colin Edwards.

Yamaha rider Lowes held off a strong challenge from another Northern Ireland rider Eugene Laverty to hold on to the final podium place on the final lap.

Laverty, 32, responded to being dropped from Shaun Muir Racing by producing an impressive ride on his Aprilia and will hope the performance could help earn him one of the remaining vacant seats on the grid for 2019.

Speaking before the race, Laverty admitted that he had been "surprised" by the team's decision to dispense with his services.

Asked about his options for 2019, Laverty replied: "Few and far between. A lot of doors are closed but I'm striving to stay in the World Superbike Championship.

"I'm working on it. It's late in the day but there are a few seats [still] available."