Kawasaki team mates Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes shared the wins in the Thai round of the 2016 World Superbike championship at the Chang International Circuit.
Michael van der Mark claimed the first ever pole position for a Dutch rider in WorldSBK history, two tenths clear of the Kawasaki pairing at the top of the timesheets to record Honda’s first pole position since Imola 2014.
After varying grip levels on Friday at Chang International Circuit, Saturday’s Tissot-Superpole 1 session left a lot to play for. With both Milwaukee riders in a 1-2 at the top, led by Czech rider Karel Abraham, the SMR team looked set to get both riders through to Superpole 2 until a late lap by Matteo Baiocco put the Italian rider into P2. Baiocco, who is standing in for injured Italian Fabio Menghi at VFT Racing, then progressed to Superpole 2 along with Karel Abraham.
In Superpole 2, it was Honda and Yamaha who initially dueled over the top grid spots, with Michael van der Mark leading the session and the Pata Yamaha duo slotting in behind the Dutchman. Ducati’s Chaz Davies then put in a lap that kickstarted the rush of activity towards the end of the session, with the Welshman getting close to his teammate Davide Giugliano on track as he set the lap.
As the red sectors to appear for many riders, the Kawasaki duo of Rea and Sykes set identical lap times to move up the timesheets and lock out P2 (Sykes) and P3 (Rea) in the final classification, ahead of Davies on the Panigale R and Guintoli, who took the new YZF R1 into the top 5 once again.
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 back 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. 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 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.
Kawasaki Racing Team’s Tom Sykes has taken an incredible victory in a three-way fight for the win at Chang International Circuit in Thailand. The Yorkshireman was locked in a battle with teammate and reigning Champion Jonathan Rea and Aruba.it Racing – Ducati’s Chaz Davies for most of the race, with some of the most electrifying maneuvers of the last few seasons exchanged between the three.
After an incredible start from both Kawasaki riders from P2 and P3, the first drama came when Honda rider Michael van der Mark and Ducati’s Chaz Davies made contact on the first lap as they tousled for position, before van der Mark led them off to chase the Kawasaki Racing Team pair of Sykes and Rea. Davies then pounced on van der Mark, with the Honda rider struggling in some corners, and the Welsh Ducati rider was able to close the gap to Sykes and Rea, joining the three-way battle that rolled all the way to the line, with some incredibly close racing seeing the three riders leave nothing on the track. It was Sykes who came out on top, crossing the line just ahead of his teammate Rea, with Davies slotting into third after an incredibly tense last lap.
Van der Mark crossed the line in fourth to see himself off the podium for the first time in 2016, with the Dutchman going on an incredible run at the start of the year. After a mechanical problem in Race 1 saw his Honda teammate Nicky Hayden retire, the number 69 Honda crossed the line in Race 2 in 5th to keep both the Fireblades in the top 5.
Sylvain Guintoli brought the new YZF R1 home in seventh for another good result on the Japanese manufacturer’s return to WorldSBK, ahead of the Althea BMW pair of Markus Reiterberger and Jordi Torres. Rookie Lorenzo Savadori brought Aprilia home in the top ten once again in P9, with that top ten completed by Ducati rider Davide Giugliano, who missed the Round through injury in 2015 and had a difficult second race at Chang International Circuit.
After seeing his teammate Rea dominate much of the 2015 season, the first strike in the fight back for Tom Sykes has landed in Thailand in Race 2, with the next chance for the reigning Champion to take back the win coming at MotorLand Aragon, the scene of Davies’ first Ducati win last season.