Kawasaki Racing Team’s Tom Sykes took an incredible victory in a three-way fight for the win at Chang International Circuit in Thailand. The Yorkshireman was locked in a battle with teammate and reigning Champion Jonathan Rea and Aruba.it Racing – Ducati’s Chaz Davies for most of the race, with some of the most electrifying racing of the last few seasons.
“The first win of the year for me and I really had to fight for it. I am happy because Jonathan is at an incredible level in this circuit and we have much such a big step from last year – so I really have to thank all of the boys. They have worked really hard in the winter and even now we are still learning. It was a great race, a great battle. It makes it more satisfying because from about lap six I was struggling with understeer from the front so my corner speed was lower than I wanted. I saw on the big screens at one stage that there were some great riders behind, giving me great pressure, so I had to re-think how to manage the race. To hold on to the win after so-so long is such a great feeling.”
“We made a small improvement today in the bike set-up and from ten laps to go I feel I had a much higher pace than Tom. I really wanted to win and I tried two or three times but to win a race against Tom when he is strong, and defending very well, you have to go really deep. Massive credit to him; he did a good job today and beat us flat out. It is good for Kawasaki to have a 1-2 although I would prefer to be the guy in front. Fair play to Tom because I was over my head to win the race yesterday but today I tried my best and got beat. I am sure it was a nice show to watch. We increased our championship lead from Phillip Island and it has been a good day, but I just wanted to win the race. To get beaten is really great for my motivation.”
Pole-sitter van der Mark crossed the line in fourth to see himself off the podium for the first time in 2016 despite pushing hard all race, but the Dutchman is still on an incredible run at the start of only his second season. After a mechanical problem in Race 1 saw his Honda teammate Nicky Hayden retire, the number 69 Honda crossed the line in Race 2 in 5th to keep both the Fireblades in the top 5.
“It was not an easy race but I have to be happy with the result. Pole position, third place in race one and now a fourth place definitely surpass the expectations we had before the round, given the difficulties encountered last year. I’m really happy about the bike and my own pace. We decided not to change the front tyre type for race two and, although we knew it was a bit of a gamble, it turned out not to be best choice. I did not have the same feeling as in the previous encounter, but it was a risk we had to take and after all, we have 13 more points to add to our tally.”
“I must say that the bike felt a lot better today. We made a lot of changes overnight and I simply just felt more comfortable, maybe not perfect but surely the improvement was there and was quite a good one. I was able to ride without making mistakes and the bike was perfectly smooth. I didn’t get the best of starts and was not fast enough in the first laps to be aggressive and make passes. As the laps went by I felt more and more comfortable; towards the end I started to set my fastest laps of the race and this is very positive. I would lie if I didn’t say that after the warm up I thought I could have put up a better fight, but nonetheless I learned a lot again and overall it was a good weekend.”
The first drama came when van der Mark and Chaz Davies made contact on the first lap as they tousled for position, before van der Mark led them off to chase the Kawasaki Racing Team pair of Sykes and Rea. Davies then pounced on the Dutchman, and the Welsh Ducati rider was able to close the gap to Sykes and Rea. The stunning three-way battle rolled on all the way to the line, with some incredibly close passes seeing the three riders leave nothing on the track. Eventually coming home third after an overnight improvement of over 15 seconds over race distance, Davies being on the podium is valuable for Ducati in Buriram.
“I’m happy with the progress we’ve made since yesterday. Thanks to the team, we solved a couple issues and I could fight at the top again, but we missed a little something to try to go for the win. We still need to improve on the engine side, but this track was probably the most difficult both for me and the Panigale R and still I leave it with a smile on my face. This podium gives me a lot of confidence ahead of the next races.”
“This weekend, it’s been more difficult than we expected. Yesterday I was making a strong comeback and crashing out was really unfortunate, while today I suffered a technical problem, which still needs to be verified, that reduced significantly my speed on the straight. Anyway, Chaz’s third place represents a good indication of the competitiveness of the Panigale R, and I’m confident I can redeem myself as well in Aragon.”
Sylvain Guintoli brought the new YZF R1 home in seventh for another good result on the Japanese manufacturer’s return to WorldSBK, ahead of the Althea BMW pair of Markus Reiterberger and Jordi Torres. Rookie Lorenzo Savadori brought Aprilia home in the top ten once again in P9, with that top ten completed by Ducati rider Davide Giugliano, who missed the Round through injury in 2015 and had a difficult second race at Chang International Circuit.
“I got off the line well and maintained my position through lap one. I felt comfortable on my BMW S 1000 RR even if I was unable to match the times of the fastest guys, despite the fact I was pushing hard. We made the right tyre choice and towards the end I was able to be faster and reach those ahead of me, and this is very positive, even though we need to find the way to be faster through the first three laps. Jordi passed me during the first three laps and I lost contact with him, then on the final lap when I was behind him he made a small mistake and I was able to profit from it.”
“We completed the kind of race we expected to, with a good start and a strong race pace. I was able to fight with my rivals and I learned a lot. We’re pleased because we are gradually reaching the others. I made a mistake on lap one and then also on the last lap because I was distracted by the information on my pit board but also by a rider a lap down who didn’t move aside. “Reiti” was behind me and ready to take advantage. We’re still only at the start of the season and we’re on the right track. The next round at Aragon in Spain is my home race. I’m happy to race there because many of my fans come along and push me on to do well at a track I really enjoy.”
“We’ve had some up’s and down’s this weekend. To be honest I said after Phillip Island that I thought we would struggle more here, and we did, but saying that we’ve shown some really good pace on pure lap time and pure performance, so that’s a good sign. We’ve also progressed a lot during the weekend and in between the races – with a lot of work and a very late night working on data with the guys, so thanks to them for that. I appreciate it, staying up late to try to make the right choices! We’ve improved the performance – we’ve gone from 25 seconds from the winner in the first race to 13 in race two! I was able to put up the fight at the second part of the race as we kept the tyre much better today, so the differences we applied worked. It’s another good learning weekend for us so now we have to carry on pushing hard, pushing to the maximum, so we can get the best feedback and help the developments to move forward in Aragon.”
“I’m really disappointed with today as I felt great on the YZF-R1 and had a decent start to run fifth. Sylvain passed me on the third lap – we came together and ran off track – so I sat behind him, pacing myself for the next few laps – because I knew from yesterday’s race that I had good pace near the end and could aim at fifth position. I was probably riding the best I have done all year, so it’s even more disappointing that I couldn’t finish the race. I’m pretty devastated, but I felt like I was riding really well and starting to understand how to get the best from this bike, so I need to go back, regroup and come back strong in Aragon.”
Leon Camier recovered well from a tough start to bring MV Agusta points once again in 11th, ahead of Team GOELEVEN’s Roman Ramos, VFT’s Matteo Baiocco and IodaRacing’s Alex De Angelis on the second Aprilia machine, who scored more points for the Italian manufacturer despite a small run off in the closing stages. GP winner Karel Abraham completed the top 15 for Milwaukee BMW just ahead of teammate Josh Brookes in Thailand.
“The weekend was not acceptable, we had major brake deterioration in both races. Even if the brakes were perfect it still would have been a poor weekend, I think p11 or 12 would have been the best result possible in that case. The engine brake settings and throttle response has improved, so the electronic side of things is becoming more predictable but this long process is robbing me of time for the base chassis set up. I still don’t have a good feeling for the bike in general. Most noticeable is the lack of rear grip on entry and this means I slow to much to arrive at the ape,x or I’m rushing in too fast and subsequently slow on the exit. I feel like a lot was learned on the weekend but I can’t predict when we will see some noticeable improvement.”
Local riders Anucha Nakcharoensri (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) and Sahustchai Kaewjaturaporn (Grillini) were both classified, with wildcard Nakcharoensri coming home in 18th.
After seeing his teammate Rea dominate much of the 2015 season, the first strike in the fight back for Tom Sykes has landed in Thailand in Race 2, with the next chance for the reigning Champion to take back the win coming at MotorLand Aragon, the scene of the Davies’ first Ducati win last season.
Motul Thai Round – Race 2
Tom Sykes Kawasaki GBR 31’33.493
Jonathan Rea Kawasaki GBR 00’00.190
Chaz Davies Ducati GBR 00’00.314
Michael van der Mark Honda NLD 00’05.199
Nicky Hayden Honda USA 00’10.643
Sylvain Guintoli Yamaha FRA 00’13.068
Markus Reiterberger BMW DEU 00’14.481
Jordi Torres BMW ESP 00’14.504
Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia ITA 00’21.694
Davide Giugliano Ducati ITA 00’23.794
Leon Camier MV Agusta GBR 00’27.205
Román Ramos Kawasaki ESP 00’32.309
Matteo Baiocco Kawasaki ITA 00’36.672
Alex De Angelis Aprilia SM 00’38.761
Karel Abraham BMW CZE 00’39.789
Joshua Brookes BMW AUS 00’42.840
Sylvain Barrier Kawasaki FRA 00’46.158
Anucha Nakcharoensri Yamaha THA 01’04.628
Dominic Schmitter Kawasaki CHE 01’21.675
Peter Sebestyen Yamaha HUN 01’21.687
Sahustchai Kaewjaturaporn Kawasaki THA 1 lap
Imre Toth Yamaha HUN 1 lap
Alex Lowes Yamaha GBR DNF
WorldSSP: Clever Cluzel Takes Victory in Thailand
MV Agusta rider comes out on top after four-way fight
Frenchman Jules Cluzel has won the WorldSSP Race at Chang International Circuit, holding off Puccetti rider Kenan Sofuoglu and Honda’s PJ Jacobsen . The MV Agusta rider scored his 11th career victory and his first since being sidelined through injury in the latter half of 2015, with the battle a four-way fight between the MV Agusta rider and Jacobsen, Sofuoglu and Krummenacher.
It was PJ Jacobsen from Honda World Supersport Team who took the early lead, before with ten laps to go, the top four riders of Jacobsen, Cluzel, Sofuoglu and Krummenacher found themselves in a four way battle. On the penultimate lap, Cluzel made his way through on Jacobsen for the lead and reigning Champion Sofuoglu attempted to follow the Frenchman through, leading to contact with Honda rider Jacobsen and three bikes going side by side into Turn 6.
Wildcard Thai rider Decha Kraisart had a great ride to 11th for Yamaha Thailand Racing Team, and last year’s 5th placed rider and wildcard Ratthapong Wilairot, whose brother claimed victory last year, showed great pace but unfortunately crashed early in the race and was unable to get to the end.
Central Coast rider Glenn Scott took another three World Championship points. After riding in 30+ degree heat all weekend, his Honda CBR600RR felt the pressure and succumbed to a cracked exhaust during the race, leaving Scott to take 13th across the finish line.
“I really love the Chang Circuit, it’s a great place to race, and the crowd is unbelievable and gives an awesome atmosphere to perform in front of. The heat can takes its toll but you find ways to manage it, and of course my fitness level plays a great part in that.
“I still have a little to learn to get the most out of the Superpole session. It’s all about tactics and timing your run well in the fast-paced 15 minute session and experience obviously plays a big part in that as well.
“I am very proud of my efforts over the whole weekend, especially throughout the race. My physical condition epitomised my race performance, I felt very strong throughout every lap in the high heat. The exhaust was bad luck and that’s just racing unfortunately. I am confident a top 10 place for me was achievable, so we know as a team we are moving forward and can be a strong contender in the European races to come”.
Aiden Wagner finished 15th to claim another World Championship point.
“Well, we made some positions up from where we started in 21st place on the grid, and finished the race up in 15th place. In the end the bike held us back with problems that we could not fix unfortunately. It will be good to get back home and re-group for Round 3 in Aragon, Spain. Whilst I’m not particularly happy with my result, we at least we got a point, so looking at the situation positively, I have scored points in both races so far. Hopefully in time for the next round, we will have found and resolved the problems we have experienced this weekend”.
The Motul Thai Round proves the first points of the year for great rivals Jules Cluzel and Kenan Sofuoglu after a difficult weekend in Australia. Puccetti rider Randy Krummenacher retains his Championship lead after two rounds, with the next race back in Europe at MotorLand Aragon.
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