World Superbikes: Jonathan Rea begins his five-in-a-row title bid in Australia

Jonathan Rea gearing up for five-in-a-row world title bid

Jonathan Rea began his bid for a fifth straight World Superbike title by finishing second fastest in Friday's practice sessions for the opening round at Phillip Island in Australia.

Northern Irishman Rea topped opening practice but was pipped by 0.04 of a second by series newcomer, Ducati rider Alvaro Bautista in session two.

Rea's Kawasaki team-mate Leon Haslam was 0.16 behind Bautista in third spot.

The Northern Irishman, 32, aims to make history by winning a fifth title.

England's Carl Fogarty is the only other rider to have won the championship on four occasions after his triumphs in 1994, 1995, 1998 and 1999.

After his move from MotoGP, Spaniard Bautista is expected to be one of Rea's main challengers this year.

However, the Northern Irishman says he is "totally prepared" for his title defence following a very productive off-season.

"I've keep PR activities with the team to the minimum," Rea told BBC Sport Northern Ireland.

"Last year, I was jetting all around the world celebrating my title but this year, I've been let get on with it.

"I've trained really hard in the off-season and testing is going well so I arrive in good shape. It's up to me now."

This year's championship sees the addition of a new 10-lap sprint race on the Sunday morning before Race Two takes place later in the day.

Rea is pleased with the innovation and believes the shorter format should suit him.

"It could be the most exciting race of the weekend but I feel really good about it because I'm good at the start and enjoy passing."

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