Superbike World Championship Round 2 - Race 1:
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) secured his third race win in succession on the Ninja ZX-10RR this season after a front-running display from pole position at the Chang International Circuit. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) made a successful late challenge for third place in the 20-lap race and scored his second FIM Superbike World Championship podium of the year.
Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes - World Superbike Championship Round 2 - Chang International Circuit, ThailandKawasaki Racing Team - World Superbike Championship Round 2 - Chang International Circuit, Thailand
From the very beginning of the first Thai race, in the full heat of the afternoon, Superpole winner Jonathan Rea was in determined mood, making a clear gap after just one lap of the 4.554km circuit. He finished up 6.279 seconds clear of second place finisher Chaz Davies at the end. Other than the first and last circuits, Rea posted lap times in the 1’33 bracket, a pace which none of his rivals could match in the hot and humid conditions.
Rea also set a new lap record to add to his new track best from Superpole 2. He reduced the lap record to 1’33.436 on lap five and in Superpole he had made a 1’32.957 - on race tyres - as there were no qualifying tyres available at this round.
Sykes, who was third for the first three laps of the opening race, was unable to keep his early position and dropped to fourth for some time. He used all his experience and speed in the closing laps to pounce on Marco Melandri for third place at the flag, scoring 16 valuable points in the process.
Tom Sykes - World Superbike Championship Round 2 - Chang International Circuit, ThailandTom Sykes - World Superbike Championship Round 2 - Chang International Circuit, Thailand
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “I did not know what my pace would be. I know it was fast enough to fight for the win but when I saw I had a gap of 0.4 seconds in the first lap I decided to try and put my head down as much as I could. As soon as I broke the one second mark I knew that slipstreaming was not going to come into play for the riders behind, so I just set my own rhythm. My pace was 1’33 and honestly I made a couple mistakes on some laps and was still in the 1‘33s. I managed to hold that rhythm and not try to over-push. It looks like we used the tyre a little bit on the right side but I guess that was to be expected as we were six seconds up the road at the end. I am really happy with that race."
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “I had some limitations early on in the race with the brakes. I was not able to brake strongly initially and that meant I was unbalanced towards the apexes of the corners. I was still able to keep quite a consistent pace and close down Marco at the end. It was nice to take a podium but it was the beginning of the race where we were missing the initial pace – and that is not like us! We will keep working and try to improve that aspect for tomorrow. I was pushing and pushing at the end and finally with three laps to go I changed the entry to some corners and tried to use the tyre to the best. I think in the end we did a good job so I’m happy to recover a third place.”
Superbike World Championship Round 2 - Race 2:
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) continued his perfect start to the latest FIM Superbike World Championship campaign on the Ninja ZX-10RR by taking his second win of the weekend today and his fourth in succession. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) had his best finish of the year in second place, in a second race, which was shortened to 16-laps after a red flag was shown early in the first attempted running.
After taking pole position and the first race win at the Chang International Circuit Jonathan Rea had to make two race starts today, just like his peer group. In the only race finish that mattered Jonathan scored his fourth win in a row, giving him a perfect score of 100 points so far and a championship lead of 30 over Chaz Davies.
Having won both Superpole contests this season, at Phillip Island and Chang, Rea has also grown his career win total to 42 after his second race success. His margin of victory in race two proved to be just over four seconds, from his own team-mate Sykes.
Sykes rode with consistency and determination again and in a copy of the Saturday’s race in Thailand he passed Marco Melandri right at the end, this time for second place and not third. A grandstand finish gave Tom his third podium of the season, and third place overall in the championship rankings, with a total of 62 points.
With the second race start ba sed on where the riders finished the red flagged race, Rea and Sykes launched off the front and second rows respectively for the real 16-lap contest.
In the Manufacturers’ Standings, Kawasaki’s lead was extended to 24 points after two rounds. The next WorldSBK event will take place at Motorland Aragon in Spain, with racedays on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd April.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “The best start to a season ever in my career. It is important to maximise these points when we can because it is how I built my championships in the past. When we can win, make sure we win, and then we can try and consolidate. These four victories are nearly halfway to my win tally from last year already! It is a good start and I just feel comfortable on the bike. We took the bike set-up we had from Phillip Island to here and it just pretty much worked. That is unheard of, so I have a good bond with the bike. There are still some areas we need to improve for the coming races but KHI are working hard on this. We expect to improve the bike again in the next races.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “The race win was not on today but second place was, so it was all about making the smartest move possible at the end. I could see Marco had so me limitations so on the last lap I knew I had a margin. He was faster than me in the twisty section before the last corner so I had to put the lap together. Finally on the last lap on my dashboard there was 1’33.7, which was the fastest of my whole race. We still have to find a little bit more from our package. I am slowly getting there and consistency has pretty much been there. We keep closing the gap but we need to try and close it a bit faster.”
2017 Superbike World Championship Points after Round 2:
JONATHAN REA 100 - Kawasaki Racing Team
CHAZ DAVIES 70
TOM SYKES 62 - Kawasaki Racing Team
ALEX LOWES 49
MARCO MELANDRI 45
XAVI FORÉS 34
JORDI TORRES 29
MICHAEL VAN DER MARK 27
LEON CAMIER 27
NICKY HAYDEN 21
EUGENE LAVERTY 15
MARKUS REITERBERGER 15
ROMÁN RAMOS 13 - KAWASAKI
ALEX DE ANGELIS 12 - KAWASAKI
LORENZO SAVADORI 10
RANDY KRUMMENACHER 10 - KAWASAKI
STEFAN BRADL 8
RICCARDO RUSSO 4
JOSHUA BROOKES 4
ONDREJ JEZEK 3 - KAWASAKI
AYRTON BADOVINI 2