The third race of the 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship in Thailand on Saturday brought a third successive victory for defending WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team), after he set a new pole record lap earlier in the day. Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) joined Rea on the podium after a 20 lap race in stiffling temperatures of 36°C.
The Northern Irish rider held on to the lead after a good start saw him take the holeshot from pole. Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), Sykes and Davies positioned themselves behind Rea’s Kawasaki ZX-10R in the early stages but none of them could match the World Champion’s pace.
Davies won the battle for second, finishing six seconds behind Rea and just under two seconds in front of the pursuing Sykes. Melandri was just off the podium, less than a tenth of a second behind Sykes, whilst a good performance from Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) saw the Dutchman complete the top five.
Another solid race from Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) saw his good form continue in sixth place, with the top ten completed by Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team), Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), Nicky Hayden (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) and rookie Stefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team).
Nearing the end of the race, in which the riders completed over 91km in the intense heat and humidity of Buriram, Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) dropped back from the fight for eighth with Torres and finished 11th.
A technical issue with the RSV4 RF of Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) at turn 5 on the final lap cost him points when he was running in seventh, whilst Ayrton Badovini (Grillini Racing Team) crashed on lap 6 and suffered a DNF, though fortunately the Italian was unharmed in the incident.
The second WorldSBK of the Round 2 weekend in Thailand takes place at 4pm local time on Sunday at the Chang International Circuit, which will see Melandri start from pole position, ahead of Van der Mark and Lowes.
1st: Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki Racing Team
“I felt really good and quite calm, my guys gave me a really good bike again and that was my plan. We had a really good pace but Chaz also had a very fast pace, as did Marco, so I had to ride away into T1 to make the holeshot, I wanted to get my head down in T1 and I did it. I managed to get a good gap and then built up a rhythm, I was just doing my job and it was enough to win, so I’m really happy.”
2nd Chaz Davies – Aruba.it Racing – Ducati
“Looking at the big picture I’m pleased with today’s performance, but I wanted to win. This morning I thought we might be close, but by the end our pace is just not good enough.I think there are a number of things we need to look at. Who knows if it’s something we can turn around overnight, but it’s going to be a little bit tough.”
3rd Tom Sykes – Kawasaki Racing Team
“I took an opportunity to get on the podium and it finally worked, and we are now able to get a lot of information. I had a small problem for a good part of the race with the braking system, but I think that will be fixed now. I’ll hopefully be strong on the brakes but overall it’s quite acceptable and I feel like we can bring the fight tomorrow.”
#THAIWorldSBK at Chang International Circuit: Race 1
1. Jonathan Rea Kawasaki
2. Chaz Davies Ducati +6.279
3. Tom Sykes Kawasaki +8.165