SHANGHAI-Rory McIlroy says his burning desire to win a fourth Race to Dubai crown in five years is keeping him fired up and focused down the final stretch of a long season.

McIlroy leapt into contention at the WGC-HSBC Champions with a second-round six-under par 66 Friday which took him to seven-under par for the tournament, six behind runaway leader Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, but only three shots off second place. McIlroy is looking to take home sizeable chunks of the huge prize funds available in his final three events in Shanghai ($9.5 million), Turkey next week ($7 million) and the season-ending Tour Championship in Dubai ($8 million).

With more than a million ranking points available to the winner of each event, third-placed McIlroy can still overhaul the 1,055,971-point gap in the standings to leader Danny Willett and the 643,243 points between the Northern Irishman and second-placed Henrik Stenson.  He has made a good start to his quest by outscoring both by the halfway mark in Shanghai.

Stenson lies three shots adrift of McIlroy, but the out-of-sorts Willett has major damage limitation to do at the weekend as he is 15 shots behind the Northern Irishman after a 74 was followed by a disastrous six-over 78 on Friday. "I want to finish the season off well. I have a good record here, good record in Dubai and let's see how it goes in Turkey," McIlroy told AFP.

"If I play the way I know that I can hopefully I can get it done. There's a target in your sights and that's the Race to Dubai for me -- I've won it three of the last four years. Trying to go four out of five I think that's a big motivation and a big key for me."

The Northern Irishman has enjoyed another great season, despite not adding to his four majors. He won the European Tour's Irish Open, which was hosted by his charitable foundation. He then triumphed at big-money Deutsche Bank Championship and Tour Championship to gain the title of number on the US PGA Tour by winning the FedEx Cup.

Now he has the double of Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup in his sights, something only achieved once before -- by Stenson in 2013. "I want to try and do the double. I want to try to win the Race to Dubai as well as what I've already achieved this year," he said. "There's a lot to play for still for me and that's why I feel like it's pretty easy to get motivated for the next few weeks."