Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 14th March 2017

Jonathan Rea’s quest to become the first rider to win three World Superbike titles in a row continued in Thailand last weekend as the 30-year-old topped the tables in every single session to take two more wins, and extend his championship lead to 30 points after just four races.


The factory Kawasaki rider was the only man to go below the 1m 33s barrier in qualifying to take pole position, and his display in Saturday’s opening race was utterly dominant as he won by over six seconds from Ducati’s Chaz Davies, the Welshman who had been second to Rea in both races in Australia a fortnight earlier. Although the 20-lap race had been relatively dull and static, a stark contrast to the Australian opener, there was some excitement as Tom Sykes passed Marco Melandri to take third at the very last corner.


Thailand GP


Race two, held on Sunday, saw Melandri lead from pole position, as Rea, Sykes and Davies powered through from the third row.


World champion Rea took the lead on lap four, but before he had a chance to power away, the red flags came out to stop the race after the Aprilia of Lorenzo Savadori dropped oil on the circuit. This was good news for Davies, who was running dead last, 29 seconds back, after crashing while trying to overtake team-mate Melandri for the lead. The call for a restart gave him a second bite at the cherry, albeit from the back of the grid.


In the restarted, 16 lap, race it was more of the same from Rea, who one again led from start to finish to take his fourth win out of four on the ZX-10R. Behind him, team-mate Sykes again got the better of Melandri on the last lap to make it a Kawasaki 1-2, while Alex Lowes took his third fourth place of the year on the improving PATA Crescent Yamaha. Davies fought through to sixth place but had some bike problems, being slowed up by a malfunctioning throttle that was a result of the earlier crash.


Thailand GP Race


Speaking after the race, a delighted Jonathan Rea said that he expects even more from his Kawasaki in the upcoming European races. He said: “It is the best start to a season ever in my career. It is important to maximise these points when we can because it is how I built my championships in the past. When we can win, make sure we win, and then we can try and consolidate. These four victories are nearly halfway to my win tally from last year already! It is a good start and I just feel comfortable on the bike. We took the bike set-up we had from Phillip Island to here and it just pretty much worked. That is unheard of, so I have a good bond with the bike. There are still some areas we need to improve for the coming races but KHI are working hard on this. We expect to improve the bike again in the next races.”


With very high temperatures at the Chang International Circuit, Sunday’s race proved to be tough on the bikes. As well as Savadori’s Aprilia breaking down, Leon Camier’s MV Agusta suffered a similar fate, while Michael van der Mark was not allowed to start after officials noticed an oil leak on his Yamaha R1. Stefan Bradl and Eugene Laverty both crashed during the race, with Laverty getting back on his Aprilia to take a single point for 15th position.


The next race is at Spain’s Aragon circuit on the first weekend of April.

2017 Superbike World Championship – Chang International Circuit, Thailand


Race one result

  1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki)

  2. Chaz Davies (Ducati)

  3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)


Race two result

  1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki)

  2. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)

  3. Marco Melandri (Ducati)


Championship standings

1. Jonathan Rea 100 points

2. Chaz Davies70

3. Tom Sykes62

4.  Alex Lowes49