Press releases from the series organizers and some of the teams after qualifying and the first WorldSBK race in Thailand:
#THAIWorldSBK– Day 2: Rea dominates race one in Buriram
After missing out in Australia, the reigning Champion returned to top spot in Thailand
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) took an excellent victory in Race One of the Motul Thai Round, continuing a dominant weekend that has now seen him take pole position, a race win and fastest lap. The 3-times World Champion certainly didn´t have things all his own way, with Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), who was narrowly pipped for pole position in Superpole 1, twice overhauling his teammate to hit the front. But when Rea finally repaid the compliment he was able to stretch away and then manage his advantage to the finish.
Sykes, meanwhile, dropped gradually backwards as the race went on. He was unfortunate to slip from third to first as Rea took command at the front of the peleton, Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) coming through and running second for some time, and Sykes eventually only able to manage sixth.
Camier, meanwhile, was one of the stars of the show, as he put in a masterclass in defensive riding and for some time looked set to end a barren run with a first podium finish since 2013. In the end he lost out to Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati), who made a perfect block pass for his second podium of the campaign. But Camier, with fourth position, has the consolation of pole start when the grid positions are re-set for tomorrow´s Race Two.
After a disappointing Tissot Superpole performance and fall, Australia´s double winner Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) rose to fifth position by the end of the opening lap but steadily dropped back to eighth despite showing inconsistently strong pace. Victory for Jonathan Rea means Melandri retains the Championship lead, but the Italian´s advantage is cut to just two points.
Meanwhile Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team), with an excellent runner-up result, moves above Tom Sykes and into third position in the series overall. The independent runner passed Sykes on the track into turn three for a provisional place on the race podium, and picked off Leon Camier on lap twelve to secure his best result in 69 starts. Meanwhile the line-up´s other main Spaniard, Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), faded quickly after a strong qualifying, ran wide and off the circuit whilst seventh and was later passed on the penultimate lap for ninth by Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia).
The same lap saw Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) take fifth position from Tom Sykes, completing an excellent second half of the race in which he recovered from eighth. Lowes had earlier enjoyed another side-by-side combat with his teammate Michael Van Der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), before the Dutchman slipped back to seventh.
With the top ten separated by just eleven seconds in Race One, and plenty of change in the rankings compared to results last time out in Australia, Race Two promises to be a similarly entertaining affair.
With the reversed grid format, lights go out for race two at 16.00LT (+7 GMT) for the Buriram battle.
P1 - Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
"I am so so happy, where we started the weekend was behind with the set-up but I had 100% faith in my team, so thanks to everyone. We are starting to head in the right direction, and my team have worked really hard all weekend, it was a long 40 minutes for me too, I think I deserve a cold bath after that!"
P2 - Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team)
"It was a really hard race with the weather and the battle with Leon at the beginning of the race, he was hard to overtake. When I got into my rhythm I was pushing hard to catch Jonny, but he was riding perfectly and I was not able to arrive with him, but this is like a victory for me. It's like a victory for me and we will see what happens tomorrow."
P3 - Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati)
"I made it hard work for myself from the third row, it was a good scrap with Leon in the closing laps, I showed him the wheel a few times and he was so late on the brakes. I was able to bide my time and got past Leon, but then it was too late to do anything about Xavi and Jonny but we will see what we can do tomorrow."
#THAIWorldSBK at Chang International Circuit: Race 1
1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
2. Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) +1.550
3. Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) +2.118
Rea Scores First Kawasaki Win Of 2018
KRT rider Jonathan Rea followed up on his Superpole qualifying success today with his first race win of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship season, securing a margin of victory of 1.5 seconds after 20 intense laps. Tom Sykes (KRT) was in a leading position early in the race but finished sixth today, after experiencing issues under braking.
After Rea had qualified on pole with a new track best earlier today, and Sykes was just 0.003 seconds behind in second place on the grid, the two KRT riders battled it out in the early laps. Sykes was first over the line in the first two laps, then Rea took a lead that was not to be threatened after his team-mate began to drop back slowly.
After some very close qualifying sessions, and knowing that many riders expected to have strong race pace today, Rea had initially intended to stay part of the main group to see where his main competition would come from. Seeing Sykes drop back after a few laps Rea pushed on out front and took a comfortable lead, surviving one moment of tension when he ran wide. He recovered his pace to win by 1.550 seconds, from independent rider, Xavi Fores. This was Jonathan’s 40th race win in WorldSBK for Kawasaki, and the first since new regulations came in to limit Kawasaki to a lower maximum rev ceiling than any of their four-cylinder rivals.
Sykes battled hard to maintain his pace and race position but found it difficult to defend his line, as other riders were able to outbrake him into the Chang International Circuit’s many slower corners. Tom was still only seven seconds from the race win, even if he had to give up fifth place just two laps from the end.
In the championship, after three races, Rea is second overall on 56 points, with Sykes fourth on 43.
Race two at Chang on Sunday 25th March will offer up another opportunity for Rea and Sykes to go for maximum points, and will again start at 16.00 local time in Thailand.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “There was a little bit of joy and relief in winning today. In Phillip Island, at the first round, mentally I was a little bit battered after I experienced sickness, injury and a really tough race one. So it was relief and joy to win today. My strategy was to sit in the group because I could see how many people would be fast, but I saw that Tom was just struggling a little bit, and I threw the plan out of the window. I led by myself, setting my own rhythm. That was really difficult, especially in the heat, with no reference out in front. The lap times stayed very consistent and that was enough to maintain the gap. I made a huge mistake in T3 at one point and lost a lot of my lead, so I had to work again. I put my head down for a few laps and managed things from there. I am excited now for tomorrow.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “I just had an issue with the braking system and after about five or six laps I ran out of adjustment. I could not stop the bike as I wanted to and then get the best out of the corners. And there are a lot of them here. I am disappointed because we have been running strongly all weekend but when we got to the race we had this issue. I am disappointed for that and for not getting the result we should have. Tomorrow, I expect we will not have this problem so we should be a lot stronger.”
Strong comeback for Davies, 3rd in Race 1 at Buriram; difficult race for Melandri, 8th
Race 1 of the second round of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship, held at Buriram (Thailand), was characterized by opposite fates for the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team. Chaz Davies sealed a fantastic third place coming back from ninth position on the grid, while Marco Melandri was forced to settle for 8th on the finish line due to issues in some sectors of the track.
Starting both from third row, in seventh and ninth position respectively, Melandri and Davies fought early on within the leading group, which was progressively separated due to many passing maneuvers. As the race progressed, Melandri struggled with stability on the straight, which caused him to lose ground. Davies, on the other hand, was able to climb back through the field to seal third place with two laps to go and defend it until the checkered flag.
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati will resume action Sunday at 11:30 local time (CET +5) for a warm-up session ahead of Race 2, scheduled to start at 16:00.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) - 3rd
"To start from third row was quite difficult, so I just tried to be patient and let the race come to me. I made some passes but, as I raced with a different front tire compared to my usual choice, I felt like I was learning the bike lap after lap. I had a fun fight with Camier, who's also my neighbour and a good friend, so I'm very happy with this podium. Tomorrow we'll start from third row but on the outside of the grid, which is better for grip. I want to make further improvements with the setup but everybody's close, so it will be a matter of details".
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33) - 8th
"We found a good pace yesterday during practice, but today we struggled once again with stability on the straight. I was competitive with fresh tires and I fought in the leading group but, as the laps went by, I was forced to ride a bit more slowly. The bike was wobbling a lot and, on a track like this with three long straights, it became an uphill race. Unfortunately we still haven't solved this issue once and for all, but the team is working really hard and we want to bounce back tomorrow."
Marco Zambenedetti, Technical Coordinator on track for Ducati Corse
"Chaz managed to seize an important podium after a complicated Superpole. Marco, despite some issues during the race, was still able to collect precious points for the championship. We'll analyze the data in depth to enable both our riders to fully express their potential tomorrow."
Camier charges to fourth place in epic Race 1 battle in Thailand
Chang International Circuit, Thailand
Leon Camier narrowly missed out on a debut podium with the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team, the Briton claiming a hard-fought fourth place in Race 1 of the Thai WorldSBK round after a stellar qualifying performance saw him start on the front row.
After a brilliant showing in Superpole 2 where he set a time of 1’32.922 on the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 to qualify in P3, Camier had a great start to the race and settled into third place for the opening laps. A well-calculated move on Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes saw Camier move up to second place after a few laps, a position he held until lap 13 when he was demoted back to third place by Ducati’s Xavi Fores.
Camier then enjoyed a fierce battle with Ducati’s Chaz Davies and was relegated to fourth place on the penultimate lap, ultimately finishing just 0.8 seconds short of a podium result. Camier’s fourth place not only secured a good haul of points but also ensures he will start from pole position in Race 2 tomorrow.
In contrast it was a challenging race for Jake Gagne on the other Fireblade, the Amercian rider was unable to replicate his good form from earlier in the weekend and finished outside of the points in eighteenth place. Gagne is confident he can turn things around for tomorrow and once again challenge for points in Race 2, where he will start from the fifth row on the grid in P14.
There will be a fifteen minute Warm Up session at 11:30 local time (GMT +7) tomorrow before the lights go out for Race 2 at 16:00.
Leon Camier 2
Today I was really happy with my performance but not quite happy with the result as I was so close to the podium! Although I missed the podium, there were a lot of positive things to take away from the day and the Fireblade was working really well. We made a small setting adjustment for Superpole which improved my one lap pace and helped put me on the front row, and we also made another small change for the race which was another step forward and meant I could challenge right at the front. Overall I am really happy with how today went - I think we're close to consistently challenging the front guys - and we'll see what I can do tomorrow in Race 2 from pole position.
- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
Jake Gagne 45
It was a rough day today; I was happy with my pace coming into qualifying but I had a crash in Superpole 1 due to making a small mistake which meant I couldn't get into Superpole 2. The race was a tough one too, I got pushed wide in turn one and then had to try make up ground, but I wasn't comfortable on the bike and found it hard to challenge the guys in front of me. I'm looking to get out there tomorrow and make up for today, we'll try a couple of small changes in Warm Up to get the bike behaving better and I'll push to get back in the points.
- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
It was an amazing race with Leon running at the front and being so close to the podium and came after our first front row qualification for the year. It shows just how much we've progressed in the development of the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 and Leon was able to show what it was capable of today. Everyone in the team is continuing to work hard and with Leon starting on pole position for Race 2, we feel we can achieve another strong result tomorrow. For Jake this was his toughest day of the season so far. It is a new circuit for him and things in the race weren't a true reflection of his pace here this weekend and he had a couple of small crashes. However, tomorrow is another opportunity and I am sure he can bring it back and add to his points tally for the season.
Pata Yamaha Battle Back in Buriram Race 1
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team fought hard in the hot and humid conditions at the Chang International Circuit during Race 1 on Saturday for Round 2 of the 2018 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship in Thailand. Alex Lowes qualified in sixth position but did not have a great start to the race, falling down to tenth place before fighting back hard to cross the line in a strong fifth position after storming through the field. His teammate Michael van der Mark got a solid start from tenth on the grid before enjoying another superb battle with his teammate and the front group, eventually finishing in seventh after he suffered from a lack of grip towards the end of the race.
After ending Friday in tenth overall, Lowes clearly meant business on Saturday in Buriram and got straight to work in FP4, setting a rapid 1:33.440 to top the morning session. When SP2 rolled around the 27-year-old British rider once again showed excellent pace and improved to a 1:33.033 to secure sixth on the grid after an incredibly close session. Despite being just 0.222s off the man on pole, Lowes would start Race 1 from the second row in sixth on the grid, knowing he had the pace to battle at the front. Unfortunately, he struggled with corner entry at the start of the race and just could not quite match the pace of the riders at the front, dropping down to 10th by the end of lap 2. Gradually, Lowes' feeling with his Pata Yamaha R1 started to improve and he started to charge his way through the field.
On lap eight he was up to eighth position and was the quickest man on track as he hunted down his teammate van der Mark. The two enjoyed another trademark battle for sixth before Lowes got past on lap 14 and set his sights on hunting down Tom Sykes ahead of him. Closing a gap of a second, he was on the back wheel of Sykes by lap 17 and after a short scrap with his compatriot, Lowes made it past on lap 19 with a superb move to secure fifth place by the line and complete an excellent comeback. The 2013 British Superbike Champion secured 11 points and is now seventh overall in the championship standings with 32 points. Feeling happy with his pace after the first few laps, Lowes is now looking forward to starting Sunday's Race 2 from the front row of the grid in second.
Van der Mark ended Friday's practice in seventh overall and, like his teammate, he impressed in the morning's FP4 session to finish in fifth with a 1:33.643. The 25-year-old Dutch rider showed good improvement in SP2 and qualified for Race 1 at the head of the fourth row in tenth after shaving another couple of tenths off his best time to set a 1:33.373. When the lights went out for Race 1, the 2014 WorldSSP Champion got a solid start but did not quite have the same sensation with his R1 under braking as he had enjoyed throughout the weekend. Focusing on trying to find a good rhythm, he showed incredible consistency throughout the race, with every lap apart from the first in the low to mid 1:34's.
Fighting his way through the pack, he was up to seventh by lap six and then passed Marco Melandri for sixth on lap ten, only to find himself in another stunning scrap with his teammate Lowes. Passing each other a number of times, the two Pata Yamaha riders put on a show for the passionate Thai fans before van der Mark's grip levels started to fade at the end of the race. Battling hard, he tried to keep with Lowes as best he could and chase down the riders in front but, unfortunately, he could not make any inroads into the gap to Sykes ahead. Crossing the line in a creditable seventh position, van der Mark secured nine championship points which sees him eighth in the overall standings with 25 points. He will start Sunday's Race 2 from fourth on the grid and, he is confident if he can make some small improvements to his Pata Yamaha R1 he will have the race pace to battle for the podium.
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team return to action at the Chang International Circuit at 11:30 am local time on Sunday in Buriram for Warm Up, with the 20-lap Race 2 scheduled to start at 4 pm. Check out the full Race 1 results from Thailand.
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 5th +7.258s
"To be honest, at Phillip Island I was slow at the start of the race and it was something I wanted to improve on here. It is normally one of my strong points, that I can get myself into a good position at the start, but at the minute I can't quite do that. I am not sure if it is a combination of me pushing too hard and the bike not quite working as well during the early laps but anyway, overall it was a good race. It was great to see everyone so close together and I was enjoying the close racing and some good passes. I think we can be quite happy with the result we got from where we were at the start, I feel I did the best I could in that situation but honestly, I expect to do a bit better than that. We will try again tomorrow!"
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 7th +8.500s
"I had to start from 10th on the grid and had quite a good start, but nothing special. To be honest, right from when the lights went out I was struggling under braking and with my grip levels and so it was quite difficult to race. I managed to be quite consistent, so I was really happy with that and we knew it was going to be a really tight race, so we had to be very consistent and not make any mistakes. I started to close the gap to the guys in front of me step by step and I had another great battle with Alex but towards the end, unfortunately, I started to struggle really badly under braking and I could not follow him anymore. This gives us something to work on for tomorrow and let's see what we can do in the race from P4 on the grid!"
Paul Denning - Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal
"It was a very positive, yet, in some ways frustrating first race here at Buriram. As we saw at Phillip Island, the extremely close racing has been repeated here in Thailand but, unfortunately, neither Alex nor Michael were able to maximise track position in the early laps and if you are running in tenth position, however fast you are able to go with a clear track in front of you, it is very difficult to maintain the lap times of the leaders when you have to fight your way through - especially with everyone so closely matched in the first half of the race. Alex recovered well from a really difficult situation that saw him drop to tenth and fully deserved his fifth position. He wanted more but he has got his chance to put himself in a better place to achieve more with a front-row start tomorrow and we are looking forward to that. Michael, as always, was very similar to Alex in pace, just didn't have quite as much left in the bike to fight in the last five laps. There are some clear targets for both the riders to improve the settings of the R1 for tomorrow, but we cannot be disappointed with the potential of the performance and we are looking forward to racing tomorrow."
Challenges at Chang for Milwaukee Aprilia in Race 1
Chang International Circuit 24 / 03 / 2018
Superpole and Race One Report
Milwaukee Aprilia had a challenging Race 1 at Chang on Saturday, with riders Eugene Laverty and Lorenzo Savadori both scoring despite separate issues on track.
Superpole 1 saw Lorenzo fight for a place in the pole position shootout, his practice times not quite enough to give him automatic entry. He delivered a result in style however, setting his fastest lap of 1'33.956 in the last moments of the session to earn a well-earned place in Superpole 2.
Teammate Eugene was the first rider on track in SP2, initially going fastest as the rest of the field turned up the wick and lap times began to drop. Setting his best lap of 1'33.119 on his final run, he lined up P8 on a tight-knit grid, 0.3s from pole. Lorenzo completed only two laps in the session, conserving his strength for the race. Setting a 1'33.450 lap on his first run, he lined up a respectable P11.
At the race start both riders held their position as the pack rushed into Turn 1, exploiting the Aprilia's power on the straight to fend off the opposition. Eugene ran consistently for the first three laps, before a problem with the fuel overflow on his bike caused him to slow as he tried to prevent further issues for himself. He looked set to finish P10 before a strong last-lap pass on Torres at Turn 3 put him P9, earning the team 7 points.
Lorenzo's race ran at a different pace, with his injury preventing him from utilising his abilities to the full. He ran most of the race in P11, seeing off challenges from Razgatlioglu. He was passed for position by Baz on lap 14, but was able to hold his place and bring home 4 points in an admirable display of grit and determination.
Morning warm up on Sunday takes place at 11:30 local time (GMT +7), ahead of the final Race 2 at 16:00.
Shaun Muir - Team Principal
"There were two different types of race for our riders today. Lorenzo rode excellently to salvage the result he did while recovering from a broken collarbone. Respect is due to him for pushing on and finishing the race well, and if he can do the same tomorrow we can consider it a job well done by him.
Eugene has some hope for Race Two by starting P6 on the grid. His race was almost as we predicted it would be, he found some good pace in the middle stage to hang on to the sixth to tenth riders. He also had a small issue with his fuel overflow which caused him some problems in the early laps.
Generally we have some positive set up changes that we can make overnight. I think with a better start tomorrow we can improve on today's result and score some good points."
Eugene Laverty #50 - Aprilia RSV4-RF
Superpole 2 result:
1'33.119 - P8 on grid
Race 1 result:
P9 - 7 points
“We did a pretty strong lap on the qualifying tyre in Superpole 2. I was surprised how close the field was in that session, we were P8 which wasn't great but only 0.3s off pole, so the lap time was decent.
In the race I made a good start but there was no room before Turn 1 to make up positions, and I got held up. There was a problem with the fuel overflow that made things harder, and I lost quite a bit of time managing that in the middle of the race. I was able to chase the pack down and take P9 for some more points, but it was a disappointing result no doubt.
I start P6 on the grid for Race 2 which should help us get a better result, and that's why I was pushing so hard at the end, to make up that position. The bike is still lacking some agility which hurts me in the tight sections, and we need to work on that. The engine is fantastic and working really well here though, we're one of the quickest in the speed trap and that's a really good tool to have."
Lorenzo Savadori #32 - Aprilia RSV4-RF
Superpole 1 result:
1'33.956 - P1
Superpole 2 result:
1'33.450 P11 on grid
Race 1 result:
P12 - 4 points
"Qualifying was quite a good result for me, I knew the target position we could push for but it was not easy to move fully on the bike with my injury. I made a small mistake on the qualifying tyre in Superpole 1 and could maybe have found some more time, but I was happy to move into Superpole 2.
My collarbone was hurting a lot during the race, but I really wanted to finish and to get some points for the team. It was really difficult for me to push honestly, but P12 was a positive result for us I think.
I need to have some recovery time tonight to be fit for tomorrow, and I want to say thank you to the medical team here for helping me this week and to the team for their support. I hope we can have a better result tomorrow with more points, and I will try really hard to do that."
A challenging race for Gulf Althea BMW
Buriram (Thailand), Saturday 24 March 2018
The first World Superbike race of the weekend in Buriram, Thailand proved to be a challenging one for the Gulf Althea BMW Racing Team, with rider Loris Baz crossing the line eleventh at the Chang International Circuit.
Superpole 1: during the 15 minutes available to them, Baz and his technicians worked hard to obtain a solid grid position. Having completed a total of 7 laps, the quickest of which a 1’34.477, Baz concluded fifth, translating into a fifth row start on the race grid.
SBK - Race 1: from fifteenth place on the grid, the Frenchman got away well, making up several positions right away to place twelfth. After a strong initial phase, Baz then struggled a little to keep pace with those immediately ahead of him during the central part of the race, lapping in fourteenth position. Improving in the final stages, the Frenchman moved back up to eleventh, but was unable to go any further considering the gap that had meanwhile opened up between him and the group ahead. Baz thus crossed the line in eleventh position.
"A very hard day. We didn’t make that step we were looking for. In Superpole, we had an issue with the first tyre and then with the second I made a mistake, losing valuable tenths and missing out on SP2. In the race, I didn’t make a great start but then was fast through the first corners. Unfortunately though, I wasn’t able to conserve the tyre in the opening stages, which meant I struggled during the final part of the race. We are having difficulty with the electronics and, as a result, with the tyre. I am happy with the front of the bike, but not the rear. We need to make a step tomorrow morning, and then a bigger one ahead of the next round.”
WorldSSP: Mahias continues his perfect season
Lap record pace ignites Tissot-Superpole 2 around red hot Buriram
Mahias continues on a perfect weekend ahead of Sunday's race
Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) dominated Tissot Superpole 2 to continue his perfect run in the 2018 FIM World Supersport Championship, with a second pole position and now in a perfect place to chase a second race victory as well. Mahias blitzed the field by eight tenths of a second in the early stages of the session, and only in the closing minutes did any of the other riders get within half a second of his effort.
Mahias´ teammate Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team), fourth at the Yamaha Finance Australian Round, has some head-scratching to do before Sunday´s WorldSSP race as he finished almost half a second back. Meanwhile Jules Cluzel (NRT) split the GRT Yamaha duo to make it a French 1-2 up front, two tenths of a second behind pole-sitter Mahias.
Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team), who appeared Mahias´ closest challenger throughout Friday practice, was surprisingly relegated to the second row of the grid in fifth. The Swiss star will start alongside fellow Yamaha Finance Australian Round podium finisher Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing), with Anthony West (EAB antwest Racing) behind him in sixth. The Australian veteran was best-of-the-rest, with a significant gap behind the lead quintet and the remainder of the pack.
Home rider Ratthapong Wilairot (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) leads row three after an excellent day, in which he progressed comfortably from Tissot Superpole 1 and then took seventh in Tissot Superpole 2. Fellow countryman Thitipong Warokorn (CORE Kawasaki Thailand Racing Team) has proven himself similarly matched throughout the weekend, and will share the burden of the home support at the Chang International Circuit come raceday tomorrow.
Racing action begins at 14.30 LT (+7 GMT), as the battle will be on to take the second trophy home of the season.
Pole position - Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team)
"It was a very good qualifying and I'm very happy with the lap time, I have a very good feeling this weekend. After Phillip Island I was not too confident with my physical condition, in the hot temperatures it's difficult but I worked a lot during the break and I'm very happy. The bike is perfect, the team have worked very hard and if you look at least years lap times you can see the team have worked hard."
#THAIWorldSBK WorldSSP at Chang International Circuit:
1. Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team)
2. Jules Cluzel (NRT) +0.229
3. Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) +0.497
Masterful Mahias Secures Third Consecutive WorldSSP Pole Position
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team's Lucas Mahias continued his incredible run by securing his third consecutive pole position on Saturday at Round 2 of the FIM Supersport World Championship in Buriram, Thailand. The man from Mont-de-Marsan was on blistering form during SP2, smashing the lap record to set a sensational 1:36.738 to make it three pole positions in a row and maintain his 100% percent record of starting every race in 2018 from the front of the grid. His teammate Federico Caricasulo was also on superb form and will join his teammate on the front row and start Sunday's race from third on the grid after setting a 1:37.235, 0.497s off the pace of Mahias.
Mahias has been in sensational form since the final round of the 2017 WorldSSP season in Qatar where he took his maiden pole position and went on to take a stunning victory. Since then, it has been a case of history repeating itself with the 28-year-old winning the opening race of the season in Phillip Island in the same fashion and now securing his third pole position in a row in Thailand. After dominating Friday's practice he ended Saturday morning's FP3 session in P2 - making it one of the very few sessions he has not topped in 2018 - after improving his best time from the previous day to a 1:37.456. Not to be outshone though, Mahias stepped it up a notch in SP2, flying straight out of the blocks to smash the outright lap record at Buriram by almost half a second as he set a 1:36.878. This was the first ever WorldSSP 1:36 lap at Buriram but, unbelievably, there was even more to come. On his second run, he somehow managed to go even quicker and improved to what can only be called an incredible 1:36.768 to secure his second pole position of the season by 0.229s. Mahias now heads into the race full of confidence and happy with the work done by his team as he looks to make it three wins out of three when the lights go out on Sunday.
His teammate Caricasulo had also been in devastating form on Friday, ending it in P3 overall with a 1:37.692. He then used Saturday morning's FP3 session to work on his rhythm with his R6 and make a few final tweaks to his Yamaha R6 before qualifying, finishing in third with a 1:37.857. He got straight down to business in SP2, setting a 1:37.776 on his first flying run, before improving by 0.541s on his second run after recording a 1:37.235. This time meant he will join his teammate on the front row for Sunday's race, with the 21-year-old lining up on the grid in third. Caricasulo is now focused on working hard overnight and during Warm Up to try and find those extra few tenths in an effort to repeat his 2017 victory in Buriram tomorrow.
It was another incredible day for Yamaha who managed to lockout the first five positions on the timing screens in SP2 to make it an all Yamaha front row, with Jules Cluzel (NRT) in second, Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) lining up at the head of the second row in fourth, and Randy Krummenacher (Bardahl Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) in fifth. Making it six Yamaha R6s in the top seven was Yamaha Thailand Racing Team's wildcard Thitipong Warokorn, while his teammate - and another wildcard - Decha Kraisart will start Sunday's race from 13th on the grid.
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team return to action on Sunday at 11 am local time in Buriram for Warm Up, with the 17-lap race due to kick off at 2.30 pm. Check out the full SP2 results.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 1st - 1:36.738
"It was an amazing day! Last year I tried all year to secure a pole position and I had to wait until the final race of the season in Qatar to do it. Now I have been on pole for the first two races of the season and three in a row! For sure, this feels good. I just followed my plan of trying to stay as relaxed as possible on the bike and this seems to be really working for me at the moment. A lot of this comes down to my team, who have been amazing at helping me keep calm and cool. The R6 is incredible and the team have been amazing! Every session we have improved the bike and gone faster. We have been working hard in the pit box to find the best solutions and, of course, you can see how good the R6 is by the fact there was a Yamaha 1-2-3-4, but my bike feels perfect thanks to the incredible work of my team. I am looking forward to the race tomorrow and hope to repeat my results in Qatar and Phillip Island."
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 3rd - 1:37.235
"I am very happy with today because we made a big step with the bike and with my race pace! Tomorrow will be very difficult, not only because it will be very hot, but because Lucas and Jules Cluzel look very fast. Now we have a lot of work to before the race to make sure we are in the best possible position to fight for the victory here like last year!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team Manager
"I am really happy after today as both riders did a superb job! Lucas was just incredible, to smash the lap record on just his second flying lap in SP2, honestly, it was almost unbelievable. To then go even quicker on his second run was simply amazing. Federico improved a lot and managed to secure a brilliant front row start, which was his target. I am very satisfied with the work both riders and the team have done. Honestly, they are an amazing team and they work so well together plus, of course, I would like to thank Yamaha for giving us a package that allows us to always be fighting at the front. We are ready for tomorrow's race!"
FIFTH SPOT ON THE GRID FOR RANDY KRUMMENACHER IN THE SECOND SSP ROUND
Buriram (Thailand) 24 March 2018
The second day of qualifying making up round two of the Supersport world championship played out today at a very hot Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand.
Randy Krummenacher was lying in second place after Friday's timed practices, having set the fastest time in FP2 (1'37.503). The Bardahl Evan Bros Racing Team rider therefore qualified directly for Superpole2, a session that got underway at 2.55pm local time, under the sweltering Thai sun, with track temperatures close to 45°C. The Swiss rider earned fifth place on the grid, proving that he has great pace and consistency, which bodes well ahead of tomorrow's Supersport race, set to start at 2.30pm local time.
#RK21: "I'm calm and confident for tomorrow's race. Yesterday I set the best time in FP2 and closed second in the combined standings. Today I wasn't able to set the fastest lap in Superpole but I have been able to confirm my consistent pace. This is very important in order to be able to fight in the race tomorrow. The team and I will continue to work to try and set up the bike to allow me to be fast on the flying lap too, but fifth on the grid isn't bad and over seventeen laps, with good pace, I can make up important positions to run the best possible race."
Okubo Ninth On The World SSP Grid
Hikari Okubo was the best placed Kawasaki Puccetti Racing rider in Superpole qualifying, in ninth place. Top Kawasaki runner today was Anthony West (EAB antwest Racing Kawasaki) who placed sixth, for a second row start in Sunday’s race.
In increasingly hot conditions on track as the day progressed Okubo set his best lap of 1’38.100 after qualifying directly into Superpole 2, to earn a third row starting position in only his second full-time ride for his team.
Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), who is standing in for the injured Kenan Sofuoglu at this round, rode to 17th overall after Superpole 1, as he gets used to riding on different tyres and suspension from his regular 2018 Kawasaki machine.
Next the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing duo will face the field in Sunday’s 17-lap WorldSSP race, the second of 12 races in the 2018 season. The scheduled start time is 14.30, local time in Malaysia.
Hikari Okubo, stated: “I am relatively happy to be inside the top ten after Superpole 2 but my target was to be inside the top six today, as I had been yesterday. It will be hotter tomorrow and it is a long race of 17 laps in Supersport. It will be difficult for sure so I need to think cleverly and not crash. I need to watch the other riders and keep my energy, but I need push more as well.”
Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman, stated: “I am very happy now because I struggled a little at times this weekend. I am still not perfect riding with this bike set-up because the suspension character is different, and the tyres are different from what I have been using. I learned a lot of things this weekend and I am here to learn and improve. It is hard but I am happy to be here in WorldSSP. I hope tomorrow I can make a good race and enjoy it.”
Thitipong Warokorn (Core Kawasaki Thailand Racing Team) placed eighth in Superpole, one place ahead of Okubo. Lachlan Epis (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) secured 21st place on the grid, and series regular Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) qualified 23rd.
Late rider replacement Ted Collins (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) was 26th on the grid, in his first ever visit to Chang, and his first ride on his team’s Kawasaki.
Irwin ready for first World Supersport Championship start at Chang
Posted on 24th March 2018
At a blisteringly hot Chang International circuit CIA Landlord Insurance Honda rider Andrew Irwin made headway throughout Saturday to qualify 25th fastest for his first World Supersport Championship race after missing the season opener in Australia through injury. The Ulsterman was encouraged with his progress and is looking for the best possible finish at his first race at the Thai circuit.
Irwin said: “Qualifying was ok, we made another step from FP3. I have to be realistic and a small step forward is better than no step or a step backwards. We’ll try to make another step in warm up to try to get into that group that is about .3/.4 ahead and who knows, if I can find another bit of time there hopefully in the race I can get into that rhythm, that groove and maybe get a point but I’ll keep giving 100%.”
Fellow CIA Landlord Insurance Honda rider Niki Tuuli’s qualifying didn’t go to plan when despite significant progress in the morning’s Free Practice 3, he didn’t make Superpole 2 and will start tomorrow’s 17 lap race from 18th spot.
Tuuli said: “This morning the riding felt ok, I put in quite a good lap time with a used tyre and that gave me confidence for Superpole. I was really sure I could make SP2 but it didn’t happen. I don’t know what the problem is but I just can’t put laps together and ride one good lap time like I did this morning. Now we have to find the key and tomorrow do my best in the race and get as many points as I can. Thanks to the team.”
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda Team Manager Simon Buckmaster said: “Andrew has improved throughout the day and there’s still a lot more to come. We are looking to get the best possible finish under his belt at his first World Supersport race. It’s always a long hard race here and we have to see what can happen, maybe a point or two, top twenty for certain.”
“It just didn’t come together for Niki, all the promise was there. We made all the right changes and everything was there to be in the 37s. I can’t say we would have matched Mahias and I have to congratulate him and the GRT team on a superb pole position, but if I look at the times and the ability of Niki combined with our package we shouldn’t be outside the top six. It’s disappointing but there is no point looking backwards we need to get a good start and score as many points as possible.”
The lights go out for Round Two of the World Supersport Championship tomorrow at 14:30 local time (08:30 BST)