Kawasaki's Jonathan Rea has opened his 2017 WorldSBK title defense in perfect fashion with two poles and four race victories.
The second round of the 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship concluded with another superb victory for Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) on Sunday at the Chang International Circuit, with Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) and Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) also on the podium.
In a restarted fourth race of the season, Rea took a brilliant win by just over four seconds from Sykes, to continue a brilliant start to the season for the Northern Irishman. Sykes made it a Kawasaki one-two with a last lap move on Melandri.
In the original Sunday race a big crash for Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) at Turn 12 just after a technical fault saw the red flag come out due to track conditions, with debris left on track by the Italian’s accident.
After a quick restart procedure the riders did battle over 16 laps, with Rea taking control as he got away from the front of the grid, which was based on the positions at the end of the fourth lap of the earlier curtailed race.
In the first race start Rea had shot up from ninth on the grid to soon contest the lead with Melandri who had started well from pole, with the World Champion taking over from the Italian at the front on the fourth lap. After the race restart Melandri could not hold Rea back with the Kawasaki man charging away as the laps progressed, with Sykes eventually also getting the better of the Ducati man.
Thanks to a perfect start to 2017 defending champion Rea now leads the championship by 30 points from Davies, ahead of the third round of the season at Aragon in three weeks time.
Meanwhile, the Motul Thai Round was a successful weekend for Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) who finished Sunday’s race six seconds off the podium in fourth, having finished sixth in Race 1. Spaniard Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) followed the Englishman across the line for fifth.
An solid performance by Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) after the restart saw him fight through the pack from 19th to eventually finish sixth - having gone down on lap three at the third corner in the initial race, losing the front end and rejoining at the back of the field.
Nicky Hayden (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team), Roman Ramos (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) and Markus Reiterberger (Althea BMW Racing Team) completed the top ten.
Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) missed out on the points due to technical issues with his bike, which meant he was unable to take part in the restarted race.
Stefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) unfortunately crashed out at turn 12 after five laps of the restarted contest and did not finish, whilst Randy Krummenacher (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) had to retire midway through the 16-lap second race of the afternoon due to a mechanical issue.
Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) crashed out of fifth under pressure from Torres at turn 6 with eight laps to go, whilst Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was advised by the marshals to stop six laps from the end of the race with smoke pouring from his MV Agusta 1000 F4 machine.
The WorldSBK riders return to action over the 31st March - 2nd April weekend at the aforementioned Pirelli Aragón Round, the third round of the 2017 season.
Stunning Win for Caricasulo in Dramatic Thai SSP Race
In a dramatic and incident packed race at the Motul Thai Round on Sunday it was Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) who took a superb win in the heat of the Chang International Circuit, with Thai wild card Decha Kraisart (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) and Niki Tuuli (Kallio Racing) also on the podium.
Late drama saw Kyle Smith (GEMAR Team Lorini) in the hunt for the victory but the Honda rider was disqualified on the last lap for failing to react to a ride through, after an earlier penalty in which he was requested to concede three positions due to unsporting behavior. Caricasulo took advantage for a great win by 0.793s from the impressive Kraisart, with 2016 sensation Tuuli three seconds behind the race winner in third.
Caricasulo had taken over the lead with seven laps to go, with the leader up until that point Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) retiring from the race seconds later due to a technical fault having led from pole from the start.
Thai rider Thitipong Warokorn (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) produced a superb result in fourth place, riding as a substitute for injured World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu who is expected to return to action at Round 3 in Spain. Meanwhile, fellow Kawasaki Puccetti Racing man Kyle Ryde was fifth in a hectic Thai race which took place in sweltering 37°C temperatures.
Also in the top ten were Hikari Okubo (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda), Sheridan Morais (Kallio Racing), Aiden Wagner (GEMAR Team Lorini), Kazuki Watanabe (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) and Robin Mulhauser (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda).
In close succession early in the race Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team), PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) were forced out with technical problems and then Thai wild card Chalermpol Polamai (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) crashed out, having started second on the grid.
Gino Rea (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) was given a ride through penalty due to finishing the warm up lap after the safety car, but failed to react to the penalty notification from the stewards and was subsequently disqualified.
Christian Gamarino (BARDAHL EVAN BROS. Honda Racing) crashed out of second place with 12 laps to go, with Smith in close proximity. Smith then had two run-offs and dropped down the order, fighting back with great pace before his late disqualification.
The WorldSSP riders will be back in action over the 31st March - 2nd April weekend at the Pirelli Aragón Round, the third round of the 2017 season.