WSBK: Jonathan Rea targets more glory in Thailand

Jonathan Rea celebrates with fans at Phillip Island in Australia.
Jonathan Rea celebrates with fans at Phillip Island in Australia.

Jonathan Rea is feeling relaxed and refreshed following a family holiday as the World Superbike champion prepares for the second round of the championship this weekend in Thailand.

Rea made a dream start to his bid to win the world crown for a record third successive time after a brilliant double at Phillip Island in Australia last month.

The Ulster rider has spent a week on holidays in Phuket, but Rea is now ready for the serious business of bolstering his title lead at the Chang International Circuit.

The 30-year-old won the opening race last year and finished as the runner-up in race two behind team-mate Tom Sykes as Kawasaki’s 100 per-cent winning record at the venue remained intact.

The circuit hosted a round of the World Superbike Championship for the first time in 2015 with Rea winning both races on the Ninja ZX-10R and the two-time champion is hoping for more of the same this weekend.

“I am really excited to go to Buriram after a great start to the season. It is always nice to ride in front of the Thai fans and we always have so many Kawasaki fans in the crowd,” he said.

“The track itself is a mix of everything; heavy braking, flowing sections and long fast straights. It will be important to confirm our base setting here as the bike has changed quite a lot since 2016.

“We will focus on putting together some strong free practices to make sure we are able to fight at the front in both races.

“I’ve spent the last week here in Phuket on holiday with my family and some friends and it has been great acclimatising to what is the hottest race of the year while enjoying some amazing Thai cuisine.”

Rea’s perfect haul of 50 points from round one has given him an advantage of 10 points over Welshman Chaz Davies, who twice finished second at Phillip Island on the Ducati.

Davies is regarded as the chief threat to Rea’s quest for an unprecedented third world crown on the trot and underpinned his credentials with a stunning run of form in the second half of 2016, winning seven of the final eight races on the Panigale R.

He struggled to break into the top 10 at the Thai circuit in 2015 but made significant progress last year, finishing fourth and third, albeit unable to mount a realistic challenge to Kawasaki frontrunners Rea and Sykes.

Both races are scheduled to take place on Saturday and Sunday at 0900 GMT.