Kawasaki Racing Team rider Jonathan Rea took a determined second place in the first race at the Chang International Circuit as his team-mate Leon Haslam scored a fifth place finish and secured valuable championship points.
Jonathan Rea led for eight laps around the 4.554km long Chang International Circuit in the first race of the weekend until he was finally overtaken by race-winner Alvaro Bautista. Rea tried hard to stay in contention for his first race win of the season, but ended up with a strong second place finish for his efforts; his fourth in four races.
Rea gave it his all for the majority of the 20-lap race but realised he could not retake the lead in the final part, easing up to make sure he took away as many points as possible.
On his return to action at the Chang circuit, after a few season of racing in BSB, Leon Haslam finished up fifth in race one, holding off a determined Marco Melandri in a man-to-man tussle. Haslam was 0.127 ahead of his Italian rival at the end of the race, even after allowing for issues that Leon experienced under braking.
Earlier in the day Rea had qualified second on the starting grid after the 25-munute Superpole contest while Haslam was fifth on the grid.
After the completion of an often close and exciting first race there will be two further points scoring contests on Sunday the 17thof March. The Tissot Superpole Race, a ten-lap sprint, will offer up 12 points for the winner. A full scoring 20-lap race will complete the weekend action at 16.00hrs local time in Thailand.
In the overnight championship standings Rea is second overall on 69 points, with Haslam sixth on 35.
Jonathan Rea: “I felt really good with the bike and we got the maximum form the package so I am looking forward for tomorrow. I was really proud of my effort and I enjoyed it. I love riding on that level but unfortunately the result did not reflect that effort. We can make a small improvement tomorrow but I feel we got the best out of our package today. At the end, there was no reason to keep pushing so I started to think about bringing back 20 points. Today second was the best that I could do and I was happy to bring it home. I am excited for tomorrow, especially for the sprint race because I feel like I can ride at that intensity for ten laps no problem, and maybe we can fight to the end.”
Leon Haslam: “Honestly, I struggled in the race. We had a little problem with the brakes with about nine laps to go, which meant I was pushing the front quite hard. With about five or six to go the front tyre was really struggling. I am not happy with fifth, although we were close to a third, but we need to improve a little bit and make a few small changes. I got caught up with a few of the riders and I was not very confident in passing. We need to make a few little tweaks and then hopefully we can get on the podiums tomorrow.”