Long live the king. Not just a sign acknowledging the beloved Thai monarch which looms over the Chang racetrack but also a message reflecting the results of race 1 in this weekend’s World Superbike Championship. Jonathan Rea was able to pass and hold off further threats from teammate Tom Sykes to take the checked flag, defending his championship title and claiming the first three races of the year.
Both races this past weekend occurred with air temperatures over 90 degrees and track temps over 100. Still, the Championship’s first visit to Chang we well attended and continued to show that the 2016 season will be competitive, if not clearly led by the Kawasaki team.
As expected, Sykes was able to put his customary struggles in Australia behind him and both Kawasakis had the best pace.
Michael van der Mark filled out the podium in third aboard his factory Honda, while his teammate, American Nicky Hayden retired due to technical issues.
BMWs showed the ability to keep gathering points, if not yet truly ready to compete in the front group. They were led this weekend by Markus Reiterberger. Reiterberger finished 5th in race one, well ahead of his teammate Jordi Torres, who finished 8th.
Josh Brookes nibbled a single point in race one, finishing 15th after struggling with brake issues. Meanwhile. Brookes’ teammate, Karel Abraham was carrying enough pace for a top 10 finish, until he crashed out on the final lap!
Race 2 was a gem of a race. An ongoing battle between both Kawasakis, frequently swapping 1st and 2nd, allowed Chaz Davies to stay close on his Ducati. While the green bikes from Japan continue to show they’re the strongest machines at the moment, Davies often ran flawless laps and the sparring at the front cut back on their pace enough to keep him in true contention for the win.
Ultimately, it was Tom Sykes who held on for the win. Many of the passing attempts by Rea were thrilling, but they would carry too much speed into the ensuing apex to complete the turns and hold the spot, allowing Sykes to reclaim the lead.
Davies did fill out the podium in third, finishing only 0.314 seconds behind Tom Sykes.
Nicky Hayden overcame Saturday’s technical flaws to claim 5th, but he still seemed troubled by some of the bikes mechanics. Perhaps that’s a sign that he has more to give later in the season.
For BMW, again it was Reiterberger coming out on top in 7th place, ahead of his teammate Torres, who was 0.023 seconds behind in 8th. Karel Abraham did still afloat this time, grabbing a single point in 15th place, while his teammate atop the Milwaukee BMW failed to score in 16th place.
World Superbike and the 4 BMWs go back at it on April 2nd in the picturesque medieval town of Aragon, Spain. Meanwhile, the premier leagues for both Auto and Motorcycle racing kick off this coming weekend with the boys of F1 racing in Melbourne Australia and we reignite the nasty rivalry between the master Valentino Rossi and the young champion Marc Marquez, this Sunday when MotoGP kicks of their 2016 season under the lights in Qatar.