Destination of Speed for WorldSBK in March
Thailand was the location for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship for Round Two of the championship, with Chang International Circuit promising to continue on the sensational start to the 2017 season. Historically a Kawasaki circuit, the riders were ready to bring the fight to the green machines. Fighting through the stifling heat and humidity of Buriram, WorldSBK produced its usual levels of drama and fantastic racing.
Heading into the third race of the year, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) started on the front row, ahead of Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) and Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), as the Italian made a strong start in his first weekend at the circuit. As the only winner of 2017 so far, Rea got the holeshot off the line and with a strong set-up on his ZX-10RR was able to take off into the distance, leaving his rivals behind to battle for the final steps on the podium. Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) started from fourth position and was soon up in the battle for the top three with Sykes and Ducati team-mate Melandri. Davies was comfortably into second position and the crowd went wild as the fight for the final step on the podium went down to the last lap, with Sykes victorious ahead of Melandri.
Race Two in Thailand saw Melandri take pole position ahead of Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team duo of Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes, but the new grid reshuffling rule was unable to be tested to its full potential as the race was red flagged following a crash from Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia), which saw the Italian bike leave oil on the track at turn 12.
Following a quick restart procedure and grid positions determined on the positions at the end of lap four, Rea was able to get a stunning start off the line and dominate the race once again, taking control of the now shortened 16 lap race. Sykes and Melandri were once again caught in a battle for podium positions, and in a similar turn of events to race one, Sykes was able to secure second through the final corner of the last lap, beating Melandri by 0.117s over the line.
Undefeated Rea now has a 30 point championship lead ahead of Davies heading into Europe, as Davies crossed the line in sixth position following a crash in the first race, meaning he started the re-started race from 19th on the grid and battled through the field.