2018 Superbike World Championship Round 2 - Superpole and Race 1:
KRT rider Jonathan Rea followed up on his Superpole qualifying success today with his first race win of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship season, securing a margin of victory of 1.5 seconds after 20 intense laps. Tom Sykes (KRT) was in a leading position early in the race but finished sixth today, after experiencing issues under braking.
After Rea had qualified on pole with a new track best earlier today, and Sykes was just 0.003 seconds behind in second place on the grid, the two KRT riders battled it out in the early laps. Sykes was first over the line in the first two laps, then Rea took a lead that was not to be threatened after his team-mate began to drop back slowly.
After some very close qualifying sessions, and knowing that many riders expected to have strong race pace today, Rea had initially intended to stay part of the main group to see where his main competition would come from. Seeing Sykes drop back after a few laps Rea pushed on out front and took a comfortable lead, surviving one moment of tension when he ran wide. He recovered his pace to win by 1.550 seconds, from independent rider, Xavi Fores. This was Jonathan’s 40th race win in WorldSBK for Kawasaki, and the first since new regulations came in to limit Kawasaki to a lower maximum rev ceiling than any of their four-cylinder rivals.
Sykes battled hard to maintain his pace and race position but found it difficult to defend his line, as other riders were able to outbrake him into the Chang International Circuit’s many slower corners. Tom was still only seven seconds from the race win, even if he had to give up fifth place just two laps from the end.
In the championship, after three races, Rea is second overall on 56 points, with Sykes fourth on 43.
Race two at Chang on Sunday 25th March will offer up another opportunity for Rea and Sykes to go for maximum points, and will again start at 16.00 local time in Thailand.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team rider): “There was a little bit of joy and relief in winning today. In Phillip Island, at the first round, mentally I was a little bit battered after I experienced sickness, injury and a really tough race one. So it was relief and joy to win today. My strategy was to sit in the group because I could see how many people would be fast, but I saw that Tom was just struggling a little bit, and I threw the plan out of the window. I led by myself, setting my own rhythm. That was really difficult, especially in the heat, with no reference out in front. The lap times stayed very consistent and that was enough to maintain the gap. I made a huge mistake in T3 at one point and lost a lot of my lead, so I had to work again. I put my head down for a few laps and managed things from there. I am excited now for tomorrow.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team rider): “I just had an issue with the braking system and after about five or six laps I ran out of adjustment. I could not stop the bike as I wanted to and then get the best out of the corners. And there are a lot of them here. I am disappointed because we have been running strongly all weekend but when we got to the race we had this issue. I am disappointed for that and for not getting the result we should have. Tomorrow, I expect we will not have this problem so we should be a lot stronger.”
2018 Superbike World Championship Round 2 - Race 2:
Jonathan Rea (KRT) secured a strong finish after a challenging second race in hot conditions at the Chang International Circuit, following up his opening day win with a battling fourth place despite experiencing issues under braking. Tom Sykes (KRT) had a technical issue with the front end of his machine and dropped through the field from his front row starting position to record a rare no-score.
Starting from the third row today, under the reverse grid rules first brought into play last season, race one winner Rea had to fight hard from the start. He occasionally ran on or lost track position as he experienced braking issues at what was already the most challenging circuit on the calendar in this regard.
Summoning up all his determination and skills, Rea managed to maintain a high level of pace and even overtake a rider in the final three laps to score fourth place.
Sykes felt a problem with his front end early in the race and went from third position on the grid to ninth in a single lap, then pulling out after completing seven laps rather than risk a potential crash.
Even being limited in his ambitions today, Rea leaves the Chang International Circuit with a two point championship lead after four races. Jonathan has 69 points, with former championship leader Marco Melandri on 67. Sykes’ race two misfortune leaves him seventh in the points with 43, but with 11 rounds and 22 races left in the championship chase.
The next round will take place in Spain, at the Motorland Aragon circuit, between 13th and 15th April.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “I think my problem today must have been a similar problem to Tom yesterday. It is what it is. After a very difficult Phillip Island we can go away from here with a first and a fourth, and leading the championship, so it was not a disaster. I am frustrated but with a smile on my face because at least the bike was good and this is the worst track for brakes. Everyone is pushing really hard so when the going gets tough the tough get going. I felt like today I could have fought for the win again, but it is what it is.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “From the first laps in free practice at Buriram, I felt on form, just like I was in Phillip Island. After Superpole I felt ready for the races. I think at that stage the overall potential of the bike was capable of fighting for the win. But then, what an absolute disaster, through no fault of my own. I have got to try and pick up now for the next race at Motorland Aragon.”
2018 Superbike World Championship Points after Round 2:
- JONATHAN REA 69 KAWASAKI
- MARCO MELANDRI 67 DUCATI
- XAVI FORES 60 DUCATI
- CHAZ DAVIES 57 DUCATI
- ALEX LOWES 48 YAMAHA
- MICHAEL VAN DER MARK 45 YAMAHA
- TOM SYKES 43 KAWASAKI
- LEON CAMIER 42 HONDA
- LORIS BAZ 21 BMW
- TOPRAK RAZGATLIOGLU 18 KAWASAKI
- EUGENE LAVERTY 16 APRILIA
- JORDI TORRES 14 MV AGUSTA
- LEANDRO MERCADO 13 KAWASAKI
- ROMÁN RAMOS 12 KAWASAKI
- LORENZO SAVADORI 11 APRILIA
- JAKE GAGNE 9 HONDA
- PJ JACOBSEN 8 HONDA
- YONNY HERNANDEZ 5 KAWASAKI
- ONDREJ JEZEK 1 YAMAHA