Jonathan Rea returned to the top step of the podium in race one at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand, after suffering defeat in Phillip Island.
The reigning world champion started from pole position and led throughout, only occasionally coming under fire from his team mate Tom Sykes, who actually made an overtaking manoeuvre on the Irishman within the first few laps. But as Sykes usually does, he slipped backwards through the pack once Rea had got back in front and he ended the race in sixth.
Leon Camier had finally brought the Honda up to the sharp end as he battled endlessly in second before coming under pressure from the factory Ducati of Chaz Davies. Although Davies got the better of him to round out the podium, Camier showed that the once struggling Fireblade SP2 is now shaping up to be a real race machine. He finished fourth in the race today, but will start from pole position tomorrow thanks to the reverse grid. Keep an eye out for him and the Blade, because together they’ll do great things.
Rider of the day was surely Xavi Fores. The Spaniard put the independent Ducati on the second step, ahead of both of the factory machines, showing impressive form and resilience when coming under pressure from Camier. Fores impressed last time out in Phillip Island too, finishing fourth in race one and third in race two. As he sits third in the overall standings, Fores will surely be a key contender in the title race, at least early on.
While two Ducatis finished on the podium, current championship leader Marco Melandri had a disaster of a race, finishing eighth on a clearly struggling Panigale. It was throwing more shapes than a drunk at a rave, and was clearly unstable as Melandri handled it down the fast straights. His eighth-place finish means he’ll start from fifth on the grid tomorrow, and will have to do some serious defending as Rea and co make their way through the grid if he wants to hang on to his championship lead.
World Superbike race one top ten:
1. Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK – 31:24.203
2. Xavi Fores – Barni Racing Team +1.550
3. Chaz Davies – Aruba.it Racing Ducati + 2.118
4. Leon Camier – Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team + 2.981
5. Alex Lowes – Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team + 7.258
6. Tom Sykes – Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK + 7.501
7. Michael van der Mark – Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team + 8.500
8. Marco Melandri – Aruba.it Racing Ducati + 10.184
9. Eugene Laverty – Milwaukee Aprilia + 11.072
10. Jordi Torres – MV Agusta Reparto Corse + 11.178