Following an early duel between the green machines, Tom Sykes spiraled backwards through the field.
After dueling on the opening two laps for the top two positions in this weekend´s Motul Thai Round of the Motul FIM Superbike World Championship, fortunes for the remainder of the 20-lap distance couldn´t have been much more different for Kawasaki Racing Team riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes.
The pair were separated by just three thousandths of a second in Tissot Superpole 2, and it was Rea who came out on top again in Race One, narrowing his deficit in the Championship overall to just two points with a first victory of the campaign.
“I am so, so happy”, reflected the three-times World Champion, “because where we started the weekend with the set-up we were a little bit behind. But I had 100% faith in my team and we never lost the direction, so thanks to everyone. I am slowly but surely finding a good feeling with this bike.”
Having twice come from behind to hit the front, and then come under attack from eventual runner-up Xavi Forés, Rea was never completely at ease. “I made a really silly mistake in T3 – I went off the track – which brought the gap back down and I had to do all of the work again at the mid-part of the race. Anyway, my team have given me a good bike this weekend to have some confidence back after Philip Island. I wouldn´t say I´m completely in love with my bike just yet, but it´s coming.”
Meanwhile Rea´s teammate Sykes, who started the stronger of the two, eventually tumbled to sixth. “Unfortunately we dropped into brake problems”, he explains. “Fighting with Jonathan on lap two I was already adjusting the brake a lot. And then after five laps I ran out of adjustment. So a long old race; I was so disappointed. The bike itself was working quite flawlessly all weekend and I felt really, really strong, and I think I showed that in practice and Superpole. So tomorrow we need to make up for lost ground, and already we´re looking at trying our best for this problem with the braking not to re-occur, and to go racing!”
To see how Kawasaki´s stars take on the rest of the teams in #THAIWorldSBK Race Two tomorrow, tune in live on the WorldSBK VideoPass.