Jonathan Rea (KRT) took his first WSB race win for Kawasaki at the first attempt in a close first 22-lap contest at Phillip Island. He then followed it up with second place to take joint championship lead. Tom Sykes (KRT) had an unlucky raceday and finished sixth and then fourth, after two truly battling rides. In hot conditions the new era of WSB competition got underway with Superpole winner Rea scoring the win by leading for all but one of the 22-laps, and finally taking the race victory by 0.039 seconds from Leon Haslam. In race two he was unlucky not to make it a double win after another fantastic fight to the flag, but he was beaten by an impossibly small 0.010 seconds across the line by Leon Haslam. Sykes was fighting to make up for an unhappy eighth place on the starting grid in each race, after the second Superpole contest had been cut short on Saturday. He was dicing with another rider on lap five of race one when he was left no choice but to run wide at the fast turn one and he dropped to the back of the loose leading pack, and had to work hard for his eventual sixth place. In race two Tom was on course for a fight for the podium places until his pace was slowed by a lack of feeling from the front and he had to settle for fourth place. The overall championship points sees leaders Haslam and Rea tied on 45, with a win and a second place apiece, while Sykes is sixth overall, on 23 points. The next round will take place a month from now, in Thailand, for the first ever WSBK round at the new Chang International Circuit near the town of Buriram.
Jonathan Rea: “I could not have had a better weekend. The team were not so optimistic about winning races or being on the podium here with the pace of some other bikes but together with Pere, Paolo, Javier, all the guys from Showa, all my mechanics, we worked really hard and never lost sight of our goal, which was to be strong for 22-laps each time. Leon just had more pace today in each race, so race one fell in my hands a little, but I am so happy to be getting out of here with 45 points and starting the season strongly. I did not expect these results at all. We were not the most optimistic so to be just pipped by a small margin in race two, and by my old team-mate Leon, I am happy for him. We did the maximum we could and came away with the maximum points we could have had. I am happy and excited to move on from here with 45 points.”
Tom Sykes: “In race one I was given no room going into turn one and had to run wide. It was one of those things and he could have easily left me some room, but he didn’t. It changed the outlook of my race but we have come away with some points on the board. In race two we made some changes to the bike set-up and I was able to be with the leaders in the beginning of the race but unfortunately we had some limitation with the front feeling. I was not quite able to put the bike where I wanted it and suffered a little but in the middle to exit of the corners. Jonathan did a great job for Kawasaki and that was good to see. Now we will leave Phillip Island with a lot more information and I hope we can use this to be stronger in the next rounds.”
After his big crash on Saturday David Salom (Kawasaki Team Pedercini) did not race but he escaped with a broken right middle finger and heavy bruising. He hopes to be fit for the next round in one month’s time. Wildcard Aussie Jed Metcher (Race Centre Demolition Plus Kawasaki) was top non-KRT finisher for Kawasaki in race one, going 14thand scoring two points. In his first WSB weekend for Kawasaki Roman Ramos (Team Go Eleven Kawasaki) turned a no-score of 16thplace in race one into tenth in race two. (Kawasaki Press)