Race One Report:
The first ever WorldSBK race to be held in Thailand has been won by Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) who dominated the 20 lap encounter at the all new Chang International circuit in Buriram. Leon Haslam (Aprilia Racing Team) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) joined him on the podium.
Rea who jointly led the standings before today’s opening race, led from the start, winning by 6.329s at the flag.
Former champion Tom Sykes made a great start from the second row, shadowing his team mate for the opening few turns before he was passed by the Aprilia Racing machine of Leon Haslam who then set about hunting down Kawasaki mounted Rea.
As the leading two eased away, the battle for 3rd was intense with Sykes, front row qualifier *Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki), Chaz Davies (Aruba Ducati SBK) and Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) embroiled in a titanic fight that saw a number of close overtaking moves around the 4.5km circuit. Davies crashed out of 5th at the end of the 9th lap, the double podium finisher in Australia was able to remount, eventually finishing in 11th.
By half distance the gap between the leading two was constant but as Alex Lowes slid out of podium contention at the final turn on lap 13, the closest on track battle was for 3rd between Sykes and WorldSBK rookie Jordi Torres who was looking strong in 4th and gradually closing in on the former champion.
With the packed grandstand erupting to the cheers of the enthusiastic fans at the end of the final lap, Rea was able to celebrate his second victory of 2015 and with it a slender 5 point advantage in the overall World Championship standings. Haslam crossed the line 1.9s ahead of Sykes and Torres, the trio completing the top four.
Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Honda WSBK Team) rode a lonely race to be classified an eventual 5th ahead of a recovering Alex Lowes who was able to salvage 10 points with a sixth place finish.
Behind the top six the remaining top ten positions were rounded out by Matteo Baiocco (Althea Racing), *Troy Bayliss (Aruba Ducati SBK), David Salom (Team Pedercini) and Leandro Mercado (Barni Racing) who rounded out the top ten respectively after an enthralling race long fight.
Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), Niccolo Canepa (Team Hero EBR) both retired in the early stages along with local wildcard rider Chanon Chumjai (RAC Oil Racing Team). Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda WSBK Team) retired from the top ten at the start of lap 7 as did Anucha Nakcharoensri (YSS TS Racing)
Christophe Ponsson (Grillini Racing Team) was the only other faller, the youngest rider on the WorldSBK grid crashed uninjured at turn one on lap 5.
* A.Lowes and N. 21 T.Bayliss have been penalised with a drop of 1 position for overtaking under yellow flag situation at 13.23 on lap 14 – art. 1.23.2
Race Two Report: Three Manufacturers In Top Three
The second WorldSBK race of the day at the Chang International Circuit saw another lights-to-flag victory by Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team), who claimed his 18th career win and extended his lead in the championship to 10 points in the process. The third double of his career, the victory capped a perfect weekend for the Ulsterman, who was dominated the event claiming pole position and recording the fastest laps in both encounters. Incredibly enough, he led every single lap of racing, too.
“For me it has been a perfect weekend with pole position and two race wins – we could not have asked for any more. The bike can always be better but at the beginning of the weekend the Ninja ZX-10R was at a really good level, my pace was really fast, the rhythm was good so we did not necessarily chase something we really could have got lost with. I have not had so many double wins in my career but I have been lucky to have some. They do not come round a lot so I want to savour this moment and reflect on what we have done tomorrow and enjoy these next few days.”
Said Rea after the double.
Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki), who was keen to make up for the error that cost him a race one podium made a lightning start, shadowing Rea for the first half of the race before succumbing to fellow British rider Leon Haslam (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils), who notched up his second consecutive 2nd place of the day.
Other KRT rider Tom Sykes had a fairly uneventful race to claim 5th just behind Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils), who scored another solid result in his debut WorldSBK season in 4th. The Spaniard pushed hard to overtake the former champion with two laps to go, eventually completing a successful manoeuvre into turn 3.
Clutch problems for the reigning world champion Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) saw the Frenchman having to start from the rear of the grid after missing the sighting lap. He would have an incredible first lap that saw him complete the first lap in 12th. He would eventually finish 6th after getting the better of team-mate Michael van der Mark, who made up for his retirement in race one by finishing 7th.
A group of four riders fought hard for the majority of the 20-lap race for the remaining top ten spots. Matteo Baiocco (Althea Racing Ducati) took 8th ahead of David Salom (Team Pedercini Kawasaki) and Leandro Mercado (Barni Racing Ducati), with Troy Bayliss (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team) finishing just outside of the top ten in 11th.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team) suffered his second crash of the day early in the race but fortunately as in race 1 he was able to remount, eventually scoring the final championship point with 15th.
Team Hero EBR riders Niccolo Canepa and Larry Pegram didn’t participate in race 2, both suffering engine issues caused by the extreme heat.
In terms of the overall championship standings Rea leads the way with 95 points out of a possible 100, 10 ahead of Haslam as the series heads to Aragon in Spain in three weeks’ time.
WSBK Point Score – Top Five After Round Two
1 Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki 95 points
2. Leon Haslam – Aprilia 85 points
3. Tom Sykes – Kawasaki 50 points
4. Sylvain Guintoli – Honda 41 points
5. Jordi Torres – Aprilia 39 points
13. Troy Bayliss – Ducati 15 points
Wilairot Delights Home Crowd With Maiden World Supersport Win
Ratthapark Wilairot (CORE Motorsport Thailand) has won the second round of the World Supersport championship coming home ahead of Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and PJ Jacobsen (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpre) who were second and 3rd in a photo finish at the end of an enthralling 17 lap race that had the packed grandstands on their feet with each lap completed.
From the start it was Kenan Sofuoglu that took the holeshot, the Turkish rider keen to make up for his mistake in the opening round of the series, but by lap 5 a group of five that included championship leader Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), Kyle Smith (Pata Honda World Supersport Team), PJ Jacobsen (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres) and local hero Ratthapark Wilairot (CORE Motorsport Thailand) were locked together, much to the delight of the local fans.
Lorenzo Zanetti (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) crashed out of the top 8 at turn 5 on the 8th lap, the Italian was unable to continue. Kyle Smith slid out of contention a lap later, the British rider who was on the podium in Australia clearly annoyed with himself.
Jules Cluzel who had been leading for most of the race retired with 3 and a half laps to go leaving Wilairot to claim an emotional first race victory in his home country.
“It’s an incredible feeling. I knew we could have been on the podium today and when I saw all the fans here I realised I had to make it in the top-3, I could hear them cheering on every single lap, today is a day to remember not just for me but for all the Thai motorcycle racing fans. I am so happy of what me and brother did today. I think our father (who passed away in 2010) would be very proud of us.”
American Jacobsen tried in vain to close down the slender lead of his Thai rival, having to make do with 3rd at the flag to secure his first podium of the year ahead after being passed on the final turn of the last lap by Sofuoglu who took 2nd..
Frenchman Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres) scored his first points of the season, finishing a lonely 4th ahead of a jubilant Ratthapong Wilairot (A.P Honda Racing Thailand) who like his elder brother, had the grandstands on their feet as he fought off a fierce attach from Italian Roberto Rolfo (Lorini Honda) who was 6th.
Martin Cardenas (CIA Landlords Insurance) became the first Colombian in the history of the series to score points in the World Supersport championship ending the race in 8th
Wilairot now heads to Europe with a 6 point lead over Sofuoglu in the overall standings.