Spoiler Alert: 2015 World Superbike results from Thailand World Superbike listed below.
Jonathan Rea joined the World Superbike Championship in 2009, competing aboard Honda CBR1000RR machinery. The 28-year-old Northern Irishman continued with Honda through 2014, never earning a title. His season best was third last year.
Following six years with Honda, Rea made a jump ahead of 2015 World SBK, joining the 2013 Champion Tom Sykes on the Kawasaki Racing Team. Rea immediately showed speed throughout preseason testing, and carried this momentum into the opening round at Phillip Island in February. There, Rea achieved a win in the opening race – a career first for the ZX-10R Ninja pilot. He followed the victory with a second-place in race two, giving him the points lead.
Things only got quicker for Rea this past weekend at Chang International Circuit during World Superbike’s debut in Thailand. Under hot and greasy conditions, Rea earned the pole position for Sunday’s two 20-lap races – his sixth-career SBK pole, including Phillip Island last month.
During Superpole, Rea was 0.356 faster than the remaining 25 riders at Chang – the 2.8-mile circuit located near Buriram, which translates to “City of Happiness.” And Rea’s dominance at the new venue continued into Sunday’s doubleheader; Rea led every lap of both races for his first double win since Imola last season.
Rea was joined on the race-one podium by the man who took the race-two win at Phillip Island, Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils Leon Haslam, and Sykes, respectively. In race two, it was Haslam in second again and Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes in third.
“For me it has been a perfect weekend with pole position and two race wins – we could not have asked for any more. The bike can always be better but at the beginning of the weekend the Ninja ZX-10R was at a really good level, my pace was really fast, the rhythm was good so we did not necessarily chase something we really could have got lost with,” Rea said.
“Our base setting right now is good and it gives me confidence to push the boundaries and understand the bike. I have not had so many double wins in my career but I have been lucky to have some. They do not come round a lot so I want to savor this moment and reflect on what we have done tomorrow and enjoy these next few days.”
Following are Thailand World SBK race recaps:
2015 Thailand World Superbike Results, Race 1 Recap:
Starting from pole, race got to turn one of 12 first, followed by Sykes and Haslam. But Haslam made quick work of Sykes, and began chasing down Rea. By lap five, Rea had opened a two-second lead, and continued to pull away until winning the race by 6.329 seconds ahead of Haslam.
The true battle of the race was for third between Sykes, front-row qualifier Lowes, Aruba Ducati Team’s Chaz Davies, and Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils’ Jordi Torres. Unfortunately, Davies crashed out on lap nine while in fifth, but was able to remount and finish 11th.
By mid race, Lowes fell out of podium contention, and Sykes was able to fend off Torres’ challenges for the final podium position. Taking fifth was the reigning World SBK Champion Sylvain Guintoli aboard the Pata Honda World Superbike CBR1000RR.
Rounding out the top 10 were Matteo Baiocco (Althea Racing), Troy Bayliss (Aruba Ducati SBK), David Salom (Team Pedercini) and Leandro Mercado (Barni Racing). Bayliss and Lowes were later penalized one position for overtaking under a yellow flag on lap 14.
The following riders suffered DNFs: Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), Niccolo Canepa (Team Hero EBR), Larry Pegram (Team Hero EBR), local wildcard rider Chanon Chumjai (RAC Oil Racing Team), Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda WSBK Team), Anucha Nakcharoensri (YSS TS Racing) and Christophe Ponsson (Grillini Racing Team).
2015 Thailand World Superbike Results, Race 2 Recap:
Rea once again took a flag-to-flag victory in race two, claiming the 18th win of his SBK career, and also the third double. Lowes was seeking redemption due to his race-one performance, and shadowed Rea for the first half.
But Haslam caught up, and was able to secure second after passing Lowes. Haslam attempted to catch Rea, but couldn’t come close; he eventually finished 4.946 seconds behind Rea. Lowes took the final podium, 8.701 seconds back.
Sykes was in place for fourth, but with two laps remaining he was overtaken at turn 3 by Torres. The Spanish Aprilia pilot held on for fourth, and Sykes took fifth.
Though clutch issues caused Guintoli to start from the back, he charged to a sixth-place finish. Rounding out the top 10 were the 2014 World Supersport Champion van der Mark, Baiocco, Salom and Mercardo.
Davies crashed once again, but he wasn’t able to remount as he did in race one. As for the American Team Hero EBR team, Canepa and Pegram didn’t start race two. Both riders suffered engine issues caused by extreme heat.
After two of 13 rounds, Rea now has 95 points – 10 ahead of Haslam and 45 ahead of Sykes. The 2015 World Superbike series breaks for three weeks before heading to Aragon in Spain.