Kawasaki Racing Team riders Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam scored two podium finishes apiece in the new-look WorldSBK Sunday format at Phillip Island in Australia, with Rea second on two occasions and Haslam third each time.
The first race of the final day of action was the innovative ten lap Tissot Superpole race, which gives points to the top nine riders. The result of the race also determines the top nine riders’ grid positions for the final race of the weekend.
Rea was second on two occasions today, and Haslam third each time, but they will only be credited with one more podium each on their official records, not two.
The second Sunday race was held over 22-laps, like race one, and for full points. Rea was again second and Haslam third after an entertaining and close contest between the official Kawasaki riders, which went all the way to the flag.
The new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR took Rea to the top of regular Superpole qualifying on Saturday, a new track best of 1’30.075 in the ten-lap Superpole race today and three second places in all. Jonathan has earned 49 championship points after round one, and sits 13 points behind the lead.
For Haslam, two third places today were a real reward after his unlucky crash and single point score in the opening 22-lap race on Saturday. His competitive and rewarding Sunday sees him rise up the championship ranking to sixth overall, on 24 points.
The second round of the 2019 WorldSBK Championship will be held at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand, with race weekend running from the 15th to the 17th of March.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “We made a little change from yesterday, to make the bike a little bit calmer, and I feel we achieved that. Our race time was faster than yesterday and I am happy with the results of the weekend. I am a little bit disappointed in the classification because the gap to the front is too much. We expected a really difficult race here. I have always had to fight for results here, so to come away with three second places, a pole position and an outright fastest lap in the Superpole race; I am satisfied. Of course, there is definitely still work to do. We could not risk a bit more today than yesterday. After race one, in Parc Ferme my tyre was almost the best, but I rode a slower race. Lots of other guys were having issues, so today with the temperature going up in the final race I had the same frame of min, to just trying to get to the end of the race and not abuse the tyre.”
Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “It was good to get on two podiums today. In the ten-lap sprint race I was a little cautious and I got caught behind the Yamahas, so I settled. I thought I had a little bit in hand to catch Jonathan in the final race. I tried to make my own rhythm for the first four laps. After this I tried to save the tyre and which then created a group of five riders. It was a nice easy rhythm and I was feeling good with my pace. Johnny and I had some good passes; good battles. My plan was to go away with two laps to go, then he passed me into turn one and I ran a little wide. At the same time he went 0.4 of a second faster. I went with him and caught him up on the last lap but I felt like I had been caught out a little bit. To battle with Jonathan in my first race weekend of the year, with his record in this class, I am happy. ”