After a change in the regular race two format, from a straight 22-laps to a flag-to-flag contest with mandatory pit stops at half race distance, KRT’s WorldSBK riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes finished second and fourth respectively. Rea’s second place today made it 350 podium finishes for Kawasaki riders since the start of the championship in 1988.
As a safety precaution to make sure that the race tyre options would go for full race distance, the second 22-lap race at the 4.445km long Phillip Island was split into two parts, with riders forced to enter pitlane for a new rear tyre during a window of three laps in the middle of the race, and having to adhere to the standard 63 second pit intervention time, which is the minimum every rider has to spend in pit lane during his tyre change at this circuit.
From the off, and starting on the front row after finishing race one in fifth place, Rea was with the front group and took over the lead on lap 20. With a lower rev limit of 14,100rpm this year for the Ninja ZX-10RR, under new technical rules for the class, Rea could not quite make his last lap leading position count at the end of the long straight. Despite leading into the final corner the three-time champion was beaten by only 0.021 seconds after a unique and often breathless second WorldSBK contest of the season.
Sykes, starting from the third row of the race after his race one podium finish on Saturday, was also in the leading group, pitting at a different time from Rea for a new rear tyre. Tom lost some degree of performance and he finished fourth at the flag, and still just 1.488 seconds from the win.
In the championship itself double race winner Marco Melandri has 50 points, Sykes 33 points and Rea 31.
On a month’s time the WorldSBK paddock will reconvene for the second round of the championship in Buriram, Thailand, between 23rd and 25th March.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “My only chance to win the race was to try and be in the lead out of the last corner. On the penultimate lap and during the race they were passing me on the straight. When I got passed by Marco into T1 I just thought ‘I am going to let the brakes off and go right down the apex and see what happens!’ I wanted to put together the best last lap I could but all weekend we have been struggling with fourth gear. It was too long for that corner and we did not have enough drive on the exit. I could not get it done today and I made a bit of a mess of my pit exit. I completely forgot to change into second gear to release the pit rev limiter and both van der Mark and Fores came past me, so I lost track position. When we came round there were already a few riders ahead so I gave myself some work to do. I am happy to turn the page and start afresh in Thailand.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “In one respect it has been very successful weekend and in another I am disappointed because I really felt that that race, potentially, was mine. I had such a good feeling with the bike but unfortunately on lap three we started to have a small technical issue and for some reason the power dropped off in some sectors of the track. Apart from that the general set-up of the bike was spot-on. In one respect we were lucky to get to the end of the race and take the championship points, but honestly I felt a better result was taken away from me. But, I have to be upbeat because it is Phillip Island in windy conditions. I had a good feeling with the Ninja ZX-10RR this weekend and there are lots of positives to take from this round. I am looking at going to Thailand now and making progress through the season.”
2018 KRT Rider Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016 & 2017
2018: Races 2, Wins 0, Podiums 1, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 54 (39 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 113 (71 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 14 (10 for Kawasaki)
Tom Sykes: World Champion 2013
2018: Races: 2, Wins 0, Podiums 1, Superpoles 1
Career Race Wins: 33 (33 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 101 (100 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 43 (43 for Kawasaki)
5 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016 & 2017), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
3 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017)
3 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016 & 2017)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 109 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 350 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 74 – second overall