Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes Trade Superbike Wins in Thailand American Nicky Hayden suffered a DNF in race one, returned to finish fifth in race two at the Chang International Circuit.
World Superbike race-two podium (from left to right): Jonathan Rea, Tom Sykes, and Chaz Davies. “The first win of the year for me and I really had to fight for it,” Sykes said. “I am happy because Jonathan is at an incredible level in this circuit, and we have taken such a big step from last year.”
Sunday’s FIM Superbike World Championship race at the 12-turn 2.830-mile Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand, had all the makings of a repeat of race one, run 24 hours earlier.
Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea took advantage of their front-row starting positions and pulled away from all but pole-position-winner Michael van der Mark and Chaz Davies, with Sykes pounding out one lap after another at the front.
Unlike Saturday’s slightly cooler race, in which Rea took command on lap 16 of 20, Sykes managed to counter his teammate’s passing attempts and take his 27th career WSBK win. Margin of victory was 0.190 seconds.
Sykes, Rea, and Ducati-mounted Davies were in contention for the top spot at the start of the final lap. Rea dove inside Sykes at turn four but ran wide at the exit of five, handing the lead back to the former series champion.
Jonathan Rea on his race-one win: “I completely emptied my tank with about four laps to go to try and get away. On the final laps, I got caught out in the first turn by another rider. I am a bit tired now because I went full gas those last four laps.”
After the race, a jubilant Sykes admitted he didn’t know if he could win. “It was a good, clean fight,” he said. “Jonathan was so strong in some sectors. I just had to be really careful and defend the line.
“I was suffering about eight laps in, really pushing the front tire in the back section of the track. I thought the win was impossible. So to do it is extra satisfaction.”
With three victories and one second-place finish, Rea leads the championship standings by 29 points. “I had to dig even deeper that race because, to be fair, my guys gave me an even better bike than yesterday,” he said.
“I realized around lap seven I had a much better pace than Tom. Then he changed his strategy, and his only objective was to block me every time I passed. That was a little bit scary at some moments.
“We still need to improve on the engine side,” Chaz Davies said, “but this track was probably the most difficult both for me and the Panigale R, and still I leave it with a smile on my face. This podium gives me a lot of confidence ahead of the next races.”
“Tom did a great job at the front; the pace was really fast. It was nice to have a fight. I really enjoyed that, so I’m looking forward to the next one.”
Davies was fourth on Saturday behind van der Mark after a difficult battle with Ducati teammate Davide Giugliano. “It was a good turnaround for us overnight, that’s for sure,” Davies said. “Today the bike was good, enough to keep me in the slipstream of those two guys.
“They’re both very good on the brakes, so it’s one of those difficult situations where I’ve got to make a bit of a lunge, and we saw how that worked out at Phillip Island.” Davies fell in Australia while battling for the race lead with Rea and finished 10th.
A faulty sensor ended race one for Nicky Hayden on Saturday, but the American came back on Sunday to finish fifth, five seconds behind Honda teammate van der Mark.
Work to do: “Turn four on the first lap I had too much engine braking—way too much,” Nicky Hayden told his Ten Kate Honda team after Sunday’s race. “Like yesterday in the race: This morning, perfect, then something is changing.”
“The bike felt a lot better today,” Hayden said. “We made a lot of changes overnight, and I simply just felt more comfortable, maybe not perfect but surely the improvement was there.
“I didn’t get the best of starts and was not fast enough in the first laps to be aggressive and make passes. Toward the end, I started to set my fastest laps of the race, and this is very positive.
“I would be lying if I didn’t say that, after the warm-up, I thought I could have put up a better fight, but nonetheless I learned a lot again, and overall, it was a good weekend.”
In World Supersport, American PJ Jacobsen got a lightning start from fourth on the grid and took the lead in turn one. Late in the race, the Honda rider ran wide in turn five, losing the top spot to eventual winner Jules Cluzel and falling into the clutches of the Kawasakis of Kenan Sofuoglu and Randy Krummenacher.
“I didn’t want to walk out of here with a third-place trophy,” World Supersport racer PJ Jacobsen said. “I’m happy with second place in the standings and we’ll make sure to find that extra bit for Aragon to give our very best up to the very last corner.”
The leading trio crossed the finish line within four tenths of a second of each other, with Jacobsen claiming third. “We were able to lead almost the entire race,” he said, “but at the very end, it was really hard to get the bike stopped and turned, so I could not attack as hard as I’d wanted.”
The third round of the 2016 FIM World Superbike Championship is scheduled for April 1-3 at the Motorland Aragon circuit in Spain.
Story courtesy of MotoAmerica.com.
World Superbike Race One Results
World Superbike Race Two Results