World Champion dominates first race of Motul Thai Round from pole, with Davies and Sykes also on podium
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.