Kawasaki Racing Team duo Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam took part in the first two free practice sessions of the Buriram WorldSBK weekend today, with Rea finishing second quickest and Haslam seventh.
In hot conditions at the 4.554km-long Chang International Circuit the racing line proved to be clean from the start as Rea and Haslam began their build up to the first Buriram WorldSBK race on Saturday.
The heat and humidity in Thailand mean that front and rear tyre duration comes into play over full race distance, so both KRT riders spent time working on clarifying their raceday options, as well as finding set-up improvements specific to this circuit.
Rea made use of his 2019 Ninja ZX-10RR’s enhanced upper rev limit in finishing second overall today, noticing more top end performance on the long straights at this stadium-style track. He also concentrated his efforts on braking performance
The opening day challenge was a stiffer one for Haslam at this venue, as he had to relearn a circuit he last rode at in 2015, and which features some new areas of asphalt compared to the only previous time Leon has raced here.
Now Haslam and Rea will move forward to FP3 on Saturday, followed by Superpole qualifying and then the first 20-lap race of the weekend. It is scheduled to start at 16.00hrs local time in Thailand, on Saturday the 16thof March.
Jonathan Rea: “We were building into it this morning and we got off to a good start. Step-by-step we improved the bike and were getting into a rhythm in that second free practice session, where we started to make some steps with set-up. I wanted to do a consistent long run but we had to confirm which tyre we will use for tomorrow, at the front and the rear. In some areas of this track I also want to improve my braking. We found some positives in all that so – putting it together – I felt pretty good out there. We can look at the finer details tonight but already we are on the way.”
Leon Haslam: “I thought I had a good handle on the track after racing here four years ago but it has taken me a little bit of time to get my head around the layout again. We stuck to our strategy and just used one tyre in each session, feeling a good rhythm, but we just need to find a little bit more pace. There is a lot of different tarmac from when I last rode here in 2015, so I am working out where those new bumps are, where it is grippy and where it is not. I am still finding braking points, which is just taking a bit of time. We are chipping away every lap, feeling better and better. It is hot out there but it is the same for everyone.”