Rea just beats teammate Sykes over the line in tense Thai battle
Reigning Champion Jonathan Rea has defeated 2013 Champion Tom Sykes in an inter-team showdown at Chang International Circuit in Thailand. The defending Champion recovered from some big on track moments earlier in the race to hunt down his teammate and eventually pass him with a few laps to go. Sykes kept the pace with the Number 1 plated machine and after having led a majority of the laps, had plenty in reserve for the final lap: the Yorkshireman closed in on his teammate with only corners to go and eventually crossed the line right behind him.
The Kawasaki Racing Team pair got a better start off the line from P2 and P3 and pole sitter Michael Van Der Mark initially dropped back before fighting his way up to just behind Rea. After the Honda rider saved a big wobble, he was left to a lonely ride to P3 to pick up his third podium of the season and maintain his 100% record in 2016. His teammate, 2006 MotoGP Champion Nicky Hayden, suffered a technical problem on lap 11 and was unfortunately forced to retire.
The Ducati duo of Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano dueled with some incredibly close racing, before Giugliano lowsided out of the race when chasing his teammate down once again. Despite never having ridden in Buriram, Giugliano’s pace was close to that of teammate Davies. The Welshman was less fortunate in Thailand last season and will be encouraged by a P4 result and a good haul of points on a track traditionally not suited to the Panigale R.
Markus Reiterberger had a great rookie ride in Thailand to P5 and was joined in the top ten by his Althea BMW teammate Jordi Torres in P8. The Yamaha pairing of Lowes and Guintoli both recovered from some trickier moments earlier in the race to bring the new YZF R1 home in P6 and P7 respectively, with the Aprilia RSV4 completing the top ten with WorldSBK rookies Alex De Angelis and Lorenzo Savadori finishing P9 and P10.
Leon Camier recovered from a difficult few sessions before Race 1 to finish in 11th with his MV Agusta, just in front of Team GOELEVEN rider Roman Ramos. Matteo Baiocco, riding for injured Fabio Menghi at VFT, scored points in 13th ahead of recovering Barni Racing’s Xavi Fores and Milwaukee BMW rider Josh Brookes.
Local rider Sahustchai Kaewjaturaporn, who replaced injured Josh Hook at Grillini for the Motul Thai Round, and Yamaha Thailand Racing Team’s Thai wildcard Anucha Nakcharoensri were both classified after a successful Race 1 at their home track.
Race 2 will prove another opportunity for the WorldSBK grid to chase more glory, with the start set for 4pm local time (9am GMT) and Dutch Honda rider Michael Van Der Mark once again on pole.
Motul Thai Round – Race 1
1. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Kawasaki Racing Team
2. Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki Racing Team +0.222
3. Michael Van Der Mark (NED) Honda World Superbike Team +9.623