Jonathan Rea took two more podium places today to remain in a strong second place in the WorldSBK Championship rankings after two rounds. His team-mate Leon Haslam battled hard in his return to the Chang International Circuit and recorded another two fifth places today, keeping him sixth overall.
With two Sunday races to compete in at the 4.554km-long Buriram circuit, one ten lap sprint race and a second full distance contest just like the opening race on Saturday, Rea and Haslam stuck to their tasks well on their official Ninja ZX-10RRs.
In finishing two seconds behind Alvaro Bautista in the early Tissot-Superpole race Rea scored nine points. He again scored a second place, by ten seconds in the final race, meaning Rea now has six runner-up spots on his 2019 record.
Being hampered by a trapped nerve in his lower back all weekend Haslam, as well as having to re-learn the secrets of the Chang circuit, also scored three identical race finishes this weekend – fifth each time.
The short race today was even shorter than planned, when a two-rider incident saw the red flag thrown to stop the action after two riders fell. The planned ten-lap contest became a six-lap event in the final classification.
In the second 20-lap race of the weekend Rea again tried to stay in the slipstream of Bautista but ended up riding to make sure of second place, after Alex Lowes ran close behind him early on. Rea maintained his strong pace to the end and he crossed the finish line with a 2.3 second margin of advantage to Lowes. He headed Lowes by 0.4 seconds in the sprint race.
In the championship rankings, Jonathan has scored 98 points and is 26 behind the lead after six individual races. Leon’s overall sixth place comes thanks to his total of 51 points, 11 more than the next closest rider.
There will now be a run of six European-based WorldSBK events, starting with the Spanish round at Motorland Aragon, which will be held between the fifth and the seventh of April.
Jonathan Rea: “The best we could hope for today was a brace of second places and we managed to achieve that, albeit with a lot of pressure from Alex in the final race. He kept really pushing, as he had in the sprint race, but I just had that little bit extra in the end of race three to go away. I want to thank my team for giving me a good bike this weekend and there is always some work to do to improve the package. I felt this weekend we struggled a little bit with front end stability, especially when the front was moving a little bit in that second part of the final race, in the sectors where I was strong. Behind my visor I was giving it 110% especially in those early laps to try and keep in the slipstream as long as I could. As soon as I lost that it was back to managing my own race. I am taking home 49 points again and we will try to build on that in Europe.”
Leon Haslam: “It was more consistent for me in the second race today. We were running the bigger brake discs, which I did not have the best of feelings with this weekend, but in general we made a big step with the bike. I can say now that I have been suffering with a tapped nerve in my back, which flared up just before I came here, and I have had to take painkilling injections. I struggled a lot this weekend and I am glad it is over, in some ways. I need some rest and then we can start again in Aragon. I had not been to Chang for four years. It was always going to be tough with just two 50-minute sessions and going straight into it. So to get three fifth places, I am quite happy.”