Once again Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes were well in the leading mix at the FIM Superbike World Championship round in Phillip Island. On the new Ninja ZX-10R Rea finally took his second win of the new season – and the championship lead of 14 points. Tom led for ten laps of the 22-lap race but two incidents pushed him back to sixth place, for sixth overall ranking in the championship.
From their front row starting positions both KRT riders made good starts with Rea aiming for his second race win of the year and Superpole winner Sykes looking for his first.
Rea led more than once and confirmed his pace in the final laps, winning the race by an eventual 0.831 seconds after Chaz Davies had fallen while trying to pass Jonathan on turn four. Rea made his escape count as Davies restarted to finish tenth, and the Kawasaki rider scored a second win of the opening weekend.
Sykes pushed away up front in race two today but was unable to make a clean break, meaning Rea was right back with him by the end of the fifth lap, followed by a pack of riders. On lap 11 Sykes dropped three positions to fourth in one corner, running wide after missing a gear, with Rea taking the lead for the first time.
After a tangle with eventual third place rider Davide Giugliano Sykes was dropped back again, regrouping and pushing on to a final sixth place, 3.320 seconds from the win.
The second round of the new season will take place in Buriram, Thailand, between the 11th and 13th of March.
Jonathan Rea stated: “It is incredible. We had two really composed races this weekend. I just did my thing and was very patient in both races at the beginning. Today I knew that Chaz would make a move again, a copybook story from yesterday, but he came through when there was no space, went completely wide and, unfortunate for him, he made a mistake. The set-up changes we made between yesterday and today means the team gave me a bike that was quite easy to ride and I was more ready for attacks. Not just in T4 but in many areas. I thank my team for that. We played the strategy game here in Phillip Island and it really paid off. I feel that we are working at around 85-90% of the potential of the machine and I am really proud to give Kawasaki these two wins on the new bike.”
Tom Sykes stated: “We are definitely knocking on the door in terms of our showings at Phillip Island. I felt really comfortable in race two up until lap ten. Going into the hairpin I struggled on the downshift. I missed gear and ran off the track. Unfortunately, on that lap I lost 1.6 seconds. A couple of laps later Giugliano and I came together and I lost another 1.6 seconds. Overall, we made a couple of small changes to the bike for today and I felt much, much more comfortable. Unfortunately I was not in the correct track position in the last five laps of the race. I am happy for the progress we have made and it something we can take forward. I have never been great here, for some reason, because I love the place.”
Roman Ramos (GO Eleven Kawasaki) scored another set of points for 12th place today, with the final point from the second race of the weekend heading to 15th placed Sylvain Barrier (Pedercini Racing Kawasaki). Dominic Schmitter was once again 16th and Pedercini Racing’s Saeed Al Sulaiti 17th for the second time in two days.