Rea And Sykes Excel On Opening Day

Courtesy of KRT – Kawasaki Racing Team

After two one-hour long practice sessions at the Chang International Circuit Kawasaki Racing Team riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes occupied the first and second places in the qualifying times with their Ninja ZX-10RR machines.

On the opening day of the second FIM Superbike World Championship round of the season the official Ninja ZX-10RR riders proved to be a step ahead of their rivals, with both Rea and Sykes under lap record pace with their respective best laps.

Rea’s 1’33.573 put him 0.210 seconds ahead of Sykes, with both riders improving their morning lap times this afternoon despite a significant increase in track temperature at the 4.554km long Thai circuit.

Today the Buriram asphalt was fully ten degrees warmer in the afternoon than the morning. With these hotter conditions the most likely ones to be experienced in the two 20-lap races on Saturday and Sunday, both Tom and Jonathan worked on finding a race set-up, before going for a faster qualifying lap.

Overall track conditions are much improved compared to last year, when two sections of recently resurfaced asphalt had to be avoided by the riders. With the freedom to use the whole track surface, and good grip from the track even despite some recent heavy rain, lap times were fast and consistent from the beginning today.

On Saturday 11th March FP3, Superpole 1 and 2 and then the first race of the weekend will take place, with Rea and Sykes already comfortably inside the guaranteed Superpole 2 places. Rea (with three) and Sykes (with a single) are the only riders to have won races at Chang since it was first added to the championship calendar in 2015.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “We focused on a race simulation at the start of the afternoon session and then at the end I just waited to set a time until the last laps. We did not want to put too many laps on my preferred tyre choices. We do not have a massive allocation of my favourite front tyres so I was testing the one-step softer front tyre, in readiness for Superpole. It wasn’t so bad but with more grip the bike worked quite differently on track. At the end of the race simulation, the bike was working really well. But when we added more grip was a bit different. So I will have to change some things in my riding style, to be honest, when I go on a time attack tomorrow in Superpole. All on all, we are pretty OK.”

Tom Sykes, stated: “I am fairly happy because we started off steadily in the morning. In the last moment of FP2, because of the changes we made during the sessions, we got to where we needed to be before the first race on Saturday. That gives me satisfaction about today’s work. Overall the lap time was not too bad but obviously we need to look to improve the set-up slightly. As Fridays go, I am quite happy with what we did. The track is quite grippy in general, offering consistency too. A couple of other guys have really strong pace but hopefully we will be part of the leading train like last year.”

2017 KRT Rider Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015 and 2016
2017: Races 2, Wins 2, Podiums 2, Superpoles 1
Career Race Wins: 40 (25 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 90 (48 For Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 9 (5 For Kawasaki)

Tom Sykes: World Champion 2013
2017: Races: 2, Wins 0, Podiums 1, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 31 (31 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 85 (84 For Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 38 (38 For Kawasaki)

Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
4 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Sykes 2013, Rea 2015 & 2016), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
2 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016)
2 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015 & 2016)

Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 93 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 310 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 64 – second overall

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