Jonathan Rea kept up his perfect start to the 2016 World Superbike Championship by winning race one in Thailand. The reigning champion prevailed in a race-long battle with teammate Tom Sykes as the factory Kawasakis totally dominated at a hot and humid Buriram.
Earlier in the day, the headlines had been made by Michael van der Mark who claimed the first pole position of his World Superbike career, edging out the Kawasaki riders who set identical times in second and third. The dream of a maiden victory faded as soon as the lights changed though with the Dutchman making a mess of the start, falling to seventh at one stage.
With some typically aggressive overtakes, van der Mark hauled himself back into contention and by the time he had completed lap three, Michael was hot on the heels of the Kawasakis in third. A second mistake, this time at turn eight, saw the polesitter fall back by a further two seconds and from that point on, the fight for victory was a two-horse race.
Rea looked to have the pace to escape early on but a mistake at the final corner on lap two opened the door for Sykes to sneak through. The 2013 champion set a consistent pace at the front as his teammate shadowed him and despite a mistake at turn eight, was perfectly positioned for a move five laps from home. The same place Rea lost the lead would be the place he regained it with Rea easing through at the final corner and despite a late rally from Sykes on the final lap, the Ulsterman held on for a third consecutive win.
Van der Mark fell nine seconds back but still maintained a comfortable third with Chaz Davies seventeen seconds off the win on the leading Ducati. The Welshman came under intense pressure from his teammate Davide Giugliano but a crash for the Italian with three laps to go put paid to his challenge. His loss was Markus Reiterberger’s gain with the German promoted to a terrific fifth while Alex Lowes recovered from an off-track excursion to snatch sixth from Yamaha teammate Sylvain Guintoli.
Jordi Torres was eighth on the second Althea BMW while the Ioda Aprilias of Alex de Angelis and Lorenzo Savadori rounded out the top ten.
WorldSBK 2016: Motul Thai Round – Race One Result
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