After podium showings at the opening round of the 2019 WorldSBK championship in Australia last month the Kawasaki Racing Team pairing of Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam approach the next round of the championship full of ambition and confidence.
The forthcoming second round of the 2019 WorldSBK Championship will be held at the 4.554km-long Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand, with race weekend running from the 15th to the 17th of March.
Once more four-time champion Rea and 2018 BSB champion Haslam will face a race weekend that comprises three races; two regular distance contests for full points and one ten-lap Tissot Superpole race on Sunday morning, which scores points for the first nine riders home. The ‘sprint’ race also determines the final race’s starting grid slots for the top nine riders.
After finishing in second place in all three WorldSBK races at Phillip Island Rea is keen to get back to winning ways at the first opportunity and extend his all-time record total of race victories to beyond his current tally of 71. Rea has an enviable record of six race wins and one additional podium finish in eight race starts at Buriram.
Haslam has already scored two podium places on his return from a successful BSB career, in the sprint race and the second full-distance race at Phillip Island. Leon’s previous WorldSBK experiences have included one weekend at the Chang International Circuit, where he scored two second places.
As well as the new-look KRT riding line-up for the 2019 season, there is a new Ninja ZX-10RR, with a higher-revving engine and other developments to make it even more potent in road and race trim.
After the Thai round of the championship there will be a run of six consecutive European-based events, starting with the Spanish round at Motorland Aragon between the fifth and the seventh of April.
Jonathan Rea: “Thailand is a great venue and one that always welcomes a lot of fans, especially Kawasaki support. The circuit is one of two halves; the first being fast stop-and-go sections and then the flowing final sectors, which play to the strength of the Ninja ZX-10RR setup. Friday will be important to nail that setup and understand our level. I’m excited to start. We have enjoyed some great success there in the past, so the goal is to build on our results from Phillip Island. I’ve spent a few days in Bangkok already with Kawasaki Thailand, visiting their factory and taking part in the Kawasaki Day, so the atmosphere is building nicely.”
Leon Haslam: “I am really looking forward to Thailand. The last time I was here was 2015, and I took two second places behind Johnny. I felt like I had good pace and I really enjoyed the circuit. It is always a challenge with the temperature and the humidity but I am looking forward to going here again this weekend. Round one in Australia was a good battle and I really enjoyed the racing there and I am looking forward to taking that on to Thailand.”