WORLD SUPERBIKES: Jonathan Rea stretches championship lead

World Superbike rider Jonathan Rea on the podium in Thailand. INLT 11-926-CON

World Superbike rider Jonathan Rea on the podium in Thailand. INLT 11-926-CON

Defending champion Jonathan Rea stretched his lead in the World Superbike series to 29 points over new second-placed rider and team-mate Tom Sykes after round two of the series in Thailand.

With high air temperatures of 34°C at the 4.554km Chang International Circuit, race one was hard work for everyone, but it was the KRT pairing who held the advantage for all of the 20-lap race.

Despite the slippery track surface in some areas, causing the riders to take unusual lines at those points, Rea’s weekend race time was better than his equivalent 2015 season win.

He set the fastest lap of the race on lap 14, as he chased down Sykes and then passed him. It was the former Larne Grammar pupil’s third win in succession on the new Ninja, giving him a perfect 75 points after three races.

In another electrifying 20-lap race between the Kawasaki team-mates it was Sykes who just got the better of the local rider by 0.190 seconds at the flag.

Ballyclare man Rea moved to a lone fifth in the all-time race winners’ tally, with 32 career wins.

“It is good for Kawasaki to have a 1-2 although I would prefer to be the guy in front,” Rea said. “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.”

The KRT squad return to their home base of Spain for the next round at the Motorland Aragon circuit. Race weekend will be held between April 1 to 3.