Rea holds Championship lead by two-points from Melandri
Randy Krummenacher takes WSS victory
Chaz Davies took a surprise win at Race 2 of the Thai WorldSBK Round, after charging through the field and claiming victory, in a string of laps which saw him take a commanding lead by lap eight and from there controlling the remainder of the class, with Van Der Mark and Lowes completing the top three.
Chaz Davies – P1
“It was a fantastic race, something special. To come away with a win here makes me so happy. At Buriram we’ve always struggled in the past, it’s been a long process to get into a race winning position. I want to thank the whole team because they’ve given me such a great bike today. The Panigale R was working really well, we found a little bit more consistency and I could be more adaptable with the bike. It was quite hectic out there but, if you can get through it OK, it’s so much fun. Our package is competitive and in Europe it will be like starting from zero. I’m looking forward to Aragon.”
Taking advantage of the reverse grid format, it was the Pata Yamaha duo of Michael Van Der Mark and Alex Lowes who made the early break, but as they squabbled among themselves the remainder of the pack stayed in touch. Lowes was the second of three riders to lead a lap on the Chang International Circuit as he passed teammate Van Der Mark on lap two, but the Dutchman came back through and led for the next five laps.
Eventually both overhauled by Davies the Yamaha pair nonetheless did enough to secure second and third positions, the first double podium for Yamaha since 2016. Lowes, in particular, was satisfied with an extra surge of pace in the seven closing laps that helped him to claim an eighth career podium.
Michael van der Mark – P2
“I am so happy with this result! Yesterday, I wasn’t happy at all after the race because I struggled so much. Then this morning we changed the bike and it didn’t feel like an improvement so for the race we took a gamble and went back to Friday’s setup. We changed the front tyre and it also helped us a little bit. After the start I was fast, I had a nice battle with Alex again, then Chaz Davies passed me and I tried to stay with him for a long time but he was just a bit quicker than me in some sectors. The pace was quite good and I saw that we were opening a gap to Alex in third. At the end, it was quite difficult for me to stay with Chaz, but then I saw I could manage the gap behind me. So, second place after the results from yesterday and at Phillip Island was really positive! I was riding at the limit but the limit today was a lot further than yesterday so it was a big improvement from Race 1. Aragon is a completely different track so it will be interesting to see how the R1 goes there but after the first two races of the season, I am really happy. There are still a few things I want to improve but if we can start on Friday at Aragon with the same pace and feeling we had today, I will be very happy!”
Alex Lowes – P3
“It was a great end to the weekend and it was fantastic for the Pata Yamaha team to have myself and Michael on the podium! To be honest, I was a bit frustrated because the first 10 or 11 laps I was just too slow – Michael came past me and I just couldn’t stay with him. It was a little bit frustrating as it was basically the same as yesterday, I was too slow in the first part of the race and I haven’t really improved that, which is a shame, but obviously Michael was really strong so maybe he is doing something a bit better than me or he found a better setup. He did a great job and I have to try and learn from that and be stronger for the next races. I feel really good in the last part of the race, in all the sessions on old tyres I have been strong but I just keep giving myself a bit too work much to do. When the race is as close as that and everyone is close together and we are battling, I really, really, enjoy it and that is obviously the main thing. If you are having fun and everyone is enjoying watching it, I think it is fantastic. I enjoyed the race, I enjoyed the weekend and I will enjoy tonight as well. We have some things to work on before Aragon, especially my feeling with the bike on a full tank of fuel. Apart from that, I feel great, I feel like the team are working really well. I have a new Crew Chief this year with Andrew Pitt, so it has taken a couple of races for everything to fit into place but now it is going good and that gives me a lot of confidence going into Aragon. I like Aragon, I like Assen, in fact, the next few tracks are fantastic for me so I hope to be challenging for the podium every weekend!”
Kawasaki´s unbroken record of victories at the Motul Thai Round was finally ended on a day where neither of their top performers could make it on to the podium at all. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) failed to take advantage of his front row grid slot, dropping back to ninth by the end of the opening lap and eventually retiring from the race.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), meanwhile, finished just three seconds from the podium places after an action-packed ride. Following an excellent first lap that saw him surge through from ninth to fourth with a series of aggressive inside overtaking moves, Rea had put himself among the favourites for victory and threatened to make it back-to-back wins.
But the Race One victor struggled in handlebar-to-handlebar combat, making a series of errors that ruled him out of contention for the win. His first duel was with Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), a shadow of the rider that looked in command in Philip Island, and the pair swapped positions on no less than five occasions before Rea eventually came out on top.
By the time Rea passed Melandri on lap nine and then shook the Italian off, Xavi Forés (Barni Racing Team) had overhauled the pair of them to move clear in fourth. But Rea in clear air was a different proposition to the rider who had struggled under side-by-side pressure earlier on, and he hunted down the lead independent rider before an overtake on lap eighteen.
Upon reflection, despite not being the result he would have hoped for, Rea´s fightback to fourth could prove critical in the Championship Standings overall.
Jonathan Rea – P4
“I think my problem today must have been a similar problem to Tom yesterday. It is what it is. After a very difficult Phillip Island we can go away from here with a first and a fourth, and leading the championship, so it was not a disaster. I am frustrated but with a smile on my face because at least the bike was good and this is the worst track for brakes. Everyone is pushing really hard so when the going gets tough the tough get going. I felt like today I could have fought for the win again, but it is what it is.”
Marco Melandri, series leader coming into Race Two, had another disastrous race in which he was relegated to seventh and never looked comfortable on the bike.
Marco Melandri – P7
“We worked hard to come up with some modifications to our setup, which unfortunately didn’t yield the expected results. The bike was wobbling a lot also today, and it was a difficult race for us. I tried to ride as hard as I could and fight back, but it wasn’t possible to do more today. Anyway, we won’t give up. The championship is still long and I’m confident we’ll find a solution. We’ll head to Aragon to fight even harder.”
Xavi Fores, who had looked set to close on both Rea and Melandri in the Championship Standings and leave the three separated by just five points, conceded fourth place three laps from the finish to change the complexion of the series standings. With the riders well adrift of him overall, Rea becomes the Championship leader and the man with the momentum as the highest scorer of the series´ top three for a second race in succession.
Meanwhile three of the top ten in the points coming into Race Two failed to finish. Tom Sykes retired with mechanical problems after seven completed laps, and therefore drops 26-points back from the leader and down to seventh overall.
Retirement for Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) and Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was more spectacular, the pair coming together on lap five when dicing over eighth place: both riders will now arrive to Europe next month out of the top ten in the Championship leaderboard.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was the rider to take advantage in Thailand, finishing best of the rest in eighth ahead of Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia), who did well to nurse his injured shoulder into the top ten in the race.
The Championship resumes with the Aragón Round in three weeks time.
#ThaiWorldSBK at Chang International Circuit – Race 2 Results
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)
Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) +2.185
Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) +3.884
2018 WorldSBK Standings following Round 2
Jonathan Rea 69
Marco Melandri 67
Xavi Fores 60
Chaz Davies 57
Alex Lowes 48
Michael Van Der Mark 45
Tom Sykes 43
Leon Camier 42
Loris Baz 21
Toprak Razgatlioglu 18
Eugene Laverty 16
Jordi Torres 14
Leandro Mercado 13
Román Ramos 12
Lorenzo Savadori 11
Jake Gagne 9
Pj Jacobsen 8
Yonny Hernandez 5
Ondrej Jezek 1
Round One runner-up Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) took his second World Supersport race victory to tie the points lead in the 2018 Championship, beating Round One winner Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) in a last-lap thriller in Thailand.
Randy Krummenacher – P1
“It feels great, I was dreaming of this victory! It’s a very very nice feeling and I enjoyed the race a lot, I worked so hard. I will continue working in the same way because it shows me its the right one.”
Frenchman Mahias had been the rider to beat all weekend and claimed pole position with some comfort, but the reigning Champion missed the start and was never able to consolidate the race lead.
2016 Thai Round winner Jules Cluzel (NRT) took the holeshot and eventually broke clear after an unsuccessful attempt to recover off the opening turn from Lucas Mahias. But Cluzel started to make mistakes under pressure as the race went on, committing an unforced error by running wide on lap eight and giving up the lead to his fellow countryman.
He recovered two laps later down the backstraight and into turn three, but his next misjudgement proved critical – a turn five lowside on lap thirteen sending him into the gravel and out of the race.
Cluzel’s crash released the top four finishers from the Australian Round to chase the win, the lead group having broken clear right from the early stages. And it was Switzerland´s Randy Krummenacher who fought his way from fourth to first in a matter of three laps, in the process setting a new lap record at the Chang International Circuit.
Lucas Mahias, bidding for his first Thai Round victory after a retirement in the race last year, struggled for top-end pace and was therefore unable to make a successful pass on Krummenacher, although he did stay with him thanks to his superior mid-corner speed.
In a brave last-bend effort, Mahias finally played his cards and took a dive down the inside in a bid for victory. Krummenacher, though, remained composed and made a perfect cutback, blocking out Mahias in a drag race down to the line with the pair even touching over the final metres.
“It was a very good race! I am not really happy because I finished in second and I always want to win. I am not sure why, but I seemed to be losing out a bit when it came to top speed on the straights, maybe it was the hotter temperatures today or the final gear ratio settings, as I spent every session riding on my own throughout the weekend. Perhaps we made a slight mistake but we will look at the data to find the reason. I had one strategy, which was to overtake Randy in the last lap – at the same corner I had overtaken Federico, but one lap before I almost lost the front in the last corner and it cost me 0.5s. After that, I pushed incredibly hard to try and close the gap to Randy on the last lap but in the first two sectors, with the straights, it was impossible to close the gap. Then I managed to close right up in the final sectors and I tried to beat him on the brakes into the last corner but Randy was very strong on the brakes and it was a good finish to the race. For sure, I would prefer to have won but I like fighting like this during the race. If you compare my start this year to last season, I only had 20 points after the first two races and still won the championship in 2017, while this year I already have 45 points! it is impossible to win the title in the first few races, but it is easy to lose it. The target remains the same, to push for lots of victories, not thinking about the points or the championship, but just going for the win. I am feeling confident for Aragon because I have the best team in the paddock and they always work incredibly hard to improve my R6 and I really enjoy working with them. I love the Aragon track, it was where I took my first WorldSSP victory last year and I am looking forward to going there and battling for the win!”
Behind the lead duo, Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) and Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) renewed a rivalry over third position that saw them separated by a photo finish in Australia.
Federico Caricasulo – P3
“I am happy with the result! I wanted more but today that was impossible as I was just losing a little on corner exit to my rivals. The race was not easy because it was really hot and we pushed at the maximum for all of the 17 laps but I am happy with what the result means for the championship and for the way my team worked. My bike mid-corner and under braking was really good and I am sure in Aragon we can be fighting for the victory!”
Cortese was the rider with the pace in the second half of the race, having had to work hard to break clear of the chasing pack and join the lead quartet. But it was Federico Caricasulo, consistent throughout, who reversed the Australian result by holding back all of Cortese´s overtaking attempts.
2017 Thai Round winner Caricasulo ran as high as second position in the 2018 race, having passed teammate Lucas Mahias on the opening lap. But Mahias surprised Caricasulo down the inside into turn eight on lap three, and set new lap record pace to break clear. Randy Krummenacher improved on that later, during his march towards victory.
After his Thai Round fall, Jules Cluzel will head to Europe a massive 36 points down on the two series leaders Randy Krummenacher and Lucas Mahias, another tie behind them over third position between Federico Caricasulo and Sandro Cortese.
The highest non-Yamaha runner is Raffaele de Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) in fifth, scoring consistent points and enjoying a strong race in Buriram with seventh.
Anthony West (EAB antwest Racing Kawasaki) was unable to stay in contention on the straights but recorded a more than creditable sixth place, winning a last lap battle on his way to ten championship points.
“P6 in the Thailand World Supersport race. The team did an awesome job, working hard. We hope to find a little more speed before the next round. Always pushing forward.”
Regular WorldSSP rider Lachlan Epis (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) had a crash and could not finish.
In his first WorldSSP race as a stand-in rider for the injured Michael Canducci, Ted Collins (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) was 22nd.
“It was a good debut for me in the World Championship, I didn’t quite have the pace on the first few laps to go with the front pack, but my mid race pace was good and I was matching the next five in front of me. With five Laps to go I had a battle for 21st but made a mistake with two laps to go and couldn’t get it back! Overall I’m happy with the weekend and I have learnt a lot from this experience. I have to say a huge thank you to Team GoEleven Kawasaki, I had never seen this bike until Thursday and they did an incredible job this weekend and were an extremely hard working fun group of guys to work with.”
#THAIWorldSBK WorldSSP at Chang International Circuit – Race
Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team)
Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) +0.048
Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) +1.213
…6. Anthony West (EAB antwest Racing)
…22. Ted Collins (Team GoEleven Kawasaki)
…DNF. Lachlan Epis (Team GoEleven Kawasaki)
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