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 – Red Devils) and Rea’s team mate Tom Sykes joined him on the podium.
Rea led from the start, building up a two-second lead over the chasing pack by the end of lap five and winning by 6.329s at the flag. Courtesy of the seventeenth win of his career, the Briton now lies atop the standings with a five-point lead over Haslam.
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.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team) 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 clinch the win. Haslam crossed the line 1.9s ahead of Sykes and Torres, the trio completing the top-four.
Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Honda World Superbike 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 Ducati), Troy Bayliss (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team), David Salom (Team Pedercini Kawasaki) and Leandro Mercado (Barni Racing Ducati) who rounded out the top ten respectively after an enthralling race long fight.
Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), Niccolò 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 World Superbike) retired from the top ten at the start of lap seven as did Anucha Nakcharoensri (YSS TS Racing)
Christophe Ponsson (Grillini Racing Team Kawasaki) was the only other faller, the youngest rider on the WorldSBK grid crashed uninjured at turn one on lap five.