Press releases from the series organizers and some of the teams after qualifying and the first WorldSBK race in Buriram:
Bautista takes Race One win and fourth successive victory in WorldSBK
Spanish rider battles to win in Buriram after on-track clash with Rea
The opening race of the Pirelli Thai Round in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship saw Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) clash on track early on, creating the rivalry everyone wanted to see unfold between the two heavyweight stars. Bautista was able to get the better of the reigning champion eventually, to take his fourth WorldSBK win.
An action-packed start saw Bautista originally get a flying start but Buriram specialist Jonathan Rea got ahead of the Spaniard through Turn 1 with Alex Lowes in behind (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team).
The GRT Yamaha WorldSBK riders of Sandro Cortese and Marco Melandri ran wide at the same turn, with Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) slicing under them and into fourth. At the end of lap one, the top four were covered by 1.1s. A lightening start from Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) saw him elevate from 10th on the grid to fifth by the end of the opening lap.
On lap three, Jonathan Rea led by a narrow margin ahead of championship leader Bautista, who has topped every session so far in Thailand this year. At Turn 3, Bautista made his move, only for Rea to cut back underneath him, colliding with his rival. Bautista made a miraculous save and whilst Alex Lowes came through, Bautista shook his head in disgust at Rea’s aggressive pass.
Whilst Rea lead, towards the end of lap three, Bautista made a pass on Lowes at the final corner, only to run wide and Lowes to pass him back down the front straight. Soon enough though, on the fourth lap at Turn 1, Bautista made his way through on Lowes and then set off in his pursuit of the four-time champion.
Behind the leaders, the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team riders started to battle to form a battle for the final podium position. Van der Mark couldn’t make a move however and Lowes would maintain a strong pace right through the race. Behind them, Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was keeping a watching brief, whilst Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) began to reel in the battle for the podium.
With 12 laps to go, Bautista had regained the ground on Rea and set about trying to find a way ahead of the Kawasaki-mounted rider. On the run to the Turn 3, Bautista got ahead and this time, he was able to make the move stick and Jonathan Rea couldn’t fight back straight away. The two continued to romp away from the rest of the pack and whilst Rea didn’t lose too much time on Bautista initially, lap after lap, Bautista’s metronomic pace soon saw him break clear. That is how it would stay until the end of the race.
With the third place battle seemingly a stalemate between the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team riders, Leon Haslam was starting to feel the pressure of Marco Melandri. Melandri made his way ahead on lap 11, but the battle was far from over. With just five laps to go, a rough lap from Melandri allowed Haslam to close up and make a move at the final corner. Haslam ran wide and the wily Italian cut back under him, clashing on the start and finish straight. Yet another Kawasaki in a collision, but this time, eventually, Haslam would win the fight.
At the line, Bautista took the win by 8.2s ahead of Rea, whilst Lowes held on ahead of Michael van der Mark by 0.4s to take his third Buriram podium. In fifth position, Leon Haslam clinched the place over Melandri, whilst Sandro Cortese took seventh after a late battle with Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team). Sykes was ninth after being pushed back due to his top speed deficit, with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) coming from 13th to 10th.
With battle between the Spaniard and the Ulsterman, Alvaro Bautista’s win makes him the first Ducati rider since Neil Hodgson in 2003 to win the opening four races of a WorldSBK season. He gives Ducati their 345th win in the World Superbike class, as well as their 587th WorldSBK podium. He also becomes the first non-British rider to win at the Chang International Circuit.
P1 - Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing - Ducati)
“For sure today has been tougher than Australia. I knew that Johnny would be fighting with me in the race because we had a similar pace during the free practices. I didn't make a good start. I went wide in the first corner and lost the first position. I kept pushing and I caught Rea, and we had a clash at Turn 3 that almost made me crash. After a few laps, I was able to recover and find back my rhythm. I pushed to the limit and passed Johnny to take the win. I am really happy because even if my feeling with the bike wasn't perfect, I was still able to win".
P2 - Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
"I am really happy. I did my best today and the package was great. I had a good bike and especially in the middle sectors, I felt like I really could push on the limit. Unfortunately, I couldn't stay with Alvaro again. But we will keep trying and keep pushing. I enjoyed riding the bike. Maybe in the Tissot Superpole Race I can ride with that intensity for ten laps, but for Race Two we need to try to conserve more the tyres. Let's see what will happen tomorrow".
P3 - Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK)
“I am pleased with my race today. I didn't feel confident with the front of the bike. I had to keep calm because I know that I was close to the riders at the front, but with the heat, I had to save the tyres to cover the race distance. I did a good job and hopefully, we can improve a bit for tomorrow and trying to get further on the podium".
Fourth win of the season for Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) after a terrific scrap with Rea. Davies crashes but rejoins to finish fifteenth
Álvaro Bautista continued his winning streak on the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team’s Panigale V4 R when he took the victory in the first race of the weekend at the Buriram circuit in Thailand. The Spanish rider got the better of Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) after a superb scrap that lasted until the mid-point of the race. Team-mate Chaz Davies on the other hand was not so lucky, the Welshman crashing out on lap 9.
Starting from pole position after picking up the first Superpole trophy of his career, Bautista went wide at the first turn and was passed by Rea who took the lead of the race. After a contact with the northern Irish rider on lap 3, which almost caused him to crash, Álvaro had to make up the lost time and positions, but he managed to catch and overtake his rival on lap 9, crossing the finishing line with a lead of eight seconds on the second placed man.
Davies started from row 3 with the ninth quickest time obtained in Superpole. The Welsh rider was not far off the group fighting for the final podium place, but he crashed after a mistake at turn 3. Davies managed to remount, finishing in fifteenth place and earning one point.
Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) – 1st
“For sure for me this was a different race completely from Australia! It was fantastic to win after a great fight with Rea, especially at the beginning and then in the middle. We made contact in turn 3 because I overtook him on the line and suddenly he came in very fast and hit me and I was very lucky not to crash and damage the bike. After that I got my pace and caught Lowes and Rea. Today however I didn’t feel so comfortable with the bike: in the morning it was good but in the afternoon I had problems braking into the corners, and in acceleration I was suffering a bit as well. Despite this, I won again and I’m happy even though the feeling wasn’t perfect.”
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) – 15th
“I had a decent start and the first few opening laps, then settled into a rhythm and found a way to pass Cortese and put myself into the podium fight which I thought was a realistic target for today. Unfortunately, I pushed the front in turn 3 and got suckered into a mistake because I wasn’t running my own race. It wasn’t a good day, but I feel like I made steps forward; now we have to turn the corner in terms of comfort and get the lap time to come a little easier. Tomorrow we’ll try and go for a different riding position on the bike and change in balance to give me a better feeling.”
Rea Second In First Thai Race
Kawasaki Racing Team rider Jonathan Rea took a determined second place in the first race at the Chang International Circuit as his team-mate Leon Haslam scored a fifth place finish and secured valuable championship points.
Jonathan Rea led for eight laps around the 4.554km long Chang International Circuit in the first race of the weekend until he was finally overtaken by race-winner Alvaro Bautista. Rea tried hard to stay in contention for his first race win of the season, but ended up with a strong second place finish for his efforts; his fourth in four races.
Rea gave it his all for the majority of the 20-lap race but realised he could not retake the lead in the final part, easing up to make sure he took away as many points as possible.
On his return to action at the Chang circuit, after a few season of racing in BSB, Leon Haslam finished up fifth in race one, holding off a determined Marco Melandri in a man-to-man tussle. Haslam was 0.127 ahead of his Italian rival at the end of the race, even after allowing for issues that Leon experienced under braking.
Earlier in the day Rea had qualified second on the starting grid after the 25-munute Superpole contest while Haslam was fifth on the grid.
After the completion of an often close and exciting first race there will be two further points scoring contests on Sunday the 17th of March. The Tissot Superpole Race, a ten-lap sprint, will offer up 12 points for the winner. A full scoring 20-lap race will complete the weekend action at 16.00hrs local time in Thailand.
In the overnight championship standings Rea is second overall on 69 points, with Haslam sixth on 35.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “I felt really good with the bike and we got the maximum form the package so I am looking forward for tomorrow. I was really proud of my effort and I enjoyed it. I love riding on that level but unfortunately the result did not reflect that effort. We can make a small improvement tomorrow but I feel we got the best out of our package today. At the end, there was no reason to keep pushing so I started to think about bringing back 20 points. Today second was the best that I could do and I was happy to bring it home. I am excited for tomorrow, especially for the sprint race because I feel like I can ride at that intensity for ten laps no problem, and maybe we can fight to the end.”
Leon Haslam, stated: “Honestly, I struggled in the race. We had a little problem with the brakes with about nine laps to go, which meant I was pushing the front quite hard. With about five or six to go the front tyre was really struggling. I am not happy with fifth, although we were close to a third, but we need to improve a little bit and make a few small changes. I got caught up with a few of the riders and I was not very confident in passing. We need to make a few little tweaks and then hopefully we can get on the podiums tomorrow.”
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) won a three-rider fight in race one to score tenth place, just edging out his fellow Kawasaki riders Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) and Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki), who were 11th and 12th respectively. Wild card rider Thitipong Warokorn (Kawasaki Thailand Racing Team) was 16th at his home round, and just missed out on a point.
Lowes Storms to Race 1 Podium in Thailand
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK rider, Alex Lowes, charged his way to third place and his first podium finish of the 2019 season in a closely fought WorldSBK encounter, run over 20-laps at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand. After shadowing his teammate throughout the race, Michael van der Mark was unable to mount a challenge on Lowes in the final stages and had to settle for fourth place at the chequered flag. Marco Melandri overcame the stability problems experienced on the two straights in Buriram yesterday to take sixth place, after an intense battle with Leon Haslam during the closing stages of the race. WorldSBK rookie, Sandro Cortese, racked up more experience and more championship points as he raced to seventh place this afternoon.
Lowes, starting from the front row of the grid after qualifying an impressive third during Superpole, was quick to find his rhythm in the early laps, battling briefly with eventual race winner Alvaro Bautista before getting his head down and maintaining a consistent pace.
Lowes came under pressure from van der Mark from mid-race distance onwards, but the 28-year-old Briton held his nerve and rode a fault free second half of the race to hold off his teammate for third. Today’s podium finish elevates Lowes to third in the championship standings with 46 points.
Van der Mark made an incredible start from tenth place on the grid, making up five places on the opening lap alone. The 26-year-old Dutchman had closed to within a bike length of his teammate by the halfway point in the race but didn’t have the additional pace needed to make a clean pass, forcing him to settle for fourth place at the line. The result promoted van der Mark up to fourth place in the standings with 42 points.
Melandri was still struggling with a lack of stability on the two long straights that are such a major feature of the Chang International Circuit and, while a set up change did alleviate the problem somewhat, the compromise was a reduction in rear grip. Despite the issues the GRT Yamaha rider enjoyed a strong race, battling closely with Haslam for fifth place, only losing out to the Briton in the final few laps as he eventually crossed the line to finish sixth. Melandri remains the leading independent rider, but slipped down to fifth place in the overall championship standings with 40 points.
Having lost touch with the group ahead of him by half race distance, Cortese endured a lonely second half of race. Despite being alone on track, the reigning World Supersport Champion maintained a consistent pace to finish seventh, his best result to date in a full length WorldSBK race.
The four Yamaha riders will be back on track tomorrow for the Superpole race, for which the lights will go out at 13.00 local time.
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – P3
"It's a really good result, but I didn't feel as comfortable in the race as I thought I would; I think the conditions were slightly different for the race compared to this morning. It meant I struggled a little bit with the front, especially with a full fuel load, but then I saw the front two had pulled a gap and my pit board was saying I had a group of three behind me, so I didn't want to make a mistake. I settled into a rhythm that I knew I could maintain to the end, and even have a little bit left over to fightback if someone passed me. In the end the pace was high enough to pull a slight gap on the group behind. While I'm happy to finish on the podium, it's also a little disappointing to be so far from the win when I felt like I rode really well. When I was battling with Alvaro after he ran wide, the speed he came past me on the short straight was a bit frustrating because I couldn't even stay in his slipstream. So, a shame to be so far off the winner, but I'm satisfied with the third place."
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – P4
"It was a good race today. I got a fantastic start and had a bit of a battle with Tom Sykes in the beginning and, after I managed to get past him, it was a case of trying to chase down Alex in third place. I managed to close the gap and I was a little bit faster in a couple of places, but I felt like I just didn't have the speed to put in a pass and pull away. So I sat behind him for most of the race, waiting for an opportunity in the closing stages, but he was a bit stronger on the brakes. We both had our strong points on the track, but he managed to get away to take a well-deserved podium and I'm happy to pick up the points for fourth after a strong race."
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK – P6
"It was difficult today. I didn't get a good start but initially I managed to come back and make up places, but then I was struggling a lot with the stability issue on the straights. It meant I couldn't sit on the seat on the straights but instead I had to keep weight on the footrests all the time, so there was no chance to breathe on the straights like normal. We made a set-up change to make the bike a bit more stable but the compromise was that we lost some rear grip, so I had to try and gain time under braking and by carrying more corner speed, but then the traction dropped off a lot after 10 laps."
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK – P7
“It’s been a good Saturday here in Thailand. A good performance in Superpole meant I started the race today from P4 on the second row of the grid but, unfortunately, I couldn’t stay with the second group from about the halfway point onwards. From that point it was a long and tough race but we finished P7, which is my best result so far in WorldSBK. Tomorrow will be another hard day but I think we are working in a very good direction. Maybe after qualifying fourth people were expecting a bit more, but we need to be realistic. Top eight was our goal and we achieved that so, overall, I’m happy with today.”
BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team in Thailand: Both BMW S 1000 RRs in the points in the first Buriram race.
Tom Sykes in the top-ten with ninth.
Team-mate Markus Reiterberger finishes in 14th position.
Tom Sykes: “The handling of the bike is honestly impressive”.
Buriram. The ‘Chang International Circuit’ in Buriram, Thailand is the second track which sees the brand new BMW S 1000 RR in action in its FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) debut season. In Saturday’s race, both BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team riders finished in the points again: Tom Sykes (GBR) crossed the line in ninth while Markus Reiterberger (GER) took 14th place.
Temperatures were already tropical for Superpole qualifying in the early afternoon, reaching 34 degrees Celsius. Sykes secured sixth place on the second row on his RR and Reiterberger finished Superpole in 11th. The race itself was held in the late afternoon local time. After 20 laps, Sykes claimed another top-ten finish with ninth position. Reiterberger also increased his points tally by taking 14th place.
Quotes after race one at Buriram.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “The results of the first race are inline with our expectations. We were able to confirm the success of our updates and sort out other issues. Now we are looking forward to tomorrow’s Superpole race. Given the current top-speed deficit however, it would still be unrealistic to expect that we can hold our grid positions in the races.”
Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “Tom had a real good Superpole. He started the session pretty slowly and did not quite get into his rhythm. Then he put the qualifying tyre on and really pulled it out of the bag to qualify in a very strong sixth position on the second row. Markus did not quite get the best out of his qualifying tyre but nevertheless he safely rode through onto a reasonable position on the grid. In the race, we knew where we would end up roughly within the field. The target was a top-ten position and I think, with the deficit in the straight-line speed, Tom did impressively and showed his professional approach to bring it home in the position he did. We got some valuable data and I am sure we can make some improvements overnight. Markus dropped back in the turmoil of the first corner after the start. He had difficult opening laps, lost positions, ran wide a couple of time when struggling on braking and so finished in 14th. Nevertheless we know what his issues are and we can rectify them overnight. All in all, I’m very happy with progress. Four race starts, four race finishes, no major problems and lots of data, and the guys are working very hard together.”
Tom Sykes: “I think everyone saw today the potential of the BMW S 1000 RR. In the corners and in the braking areas, I think our potential is very high. It’s just a bit unfortunate that we are missing out on straight-line speed and so we were losing positions on the straight. I was very happy with the performance in the corners, the corner speed and the general turning of the bike. Again: the first time I rode this bike was on 18th December. It is a very early stage of the programme. I have a lot of experience and to just put things into perspective I think that we are doing a very, very good job. For now we have a limitation on speed performance but in the areas of chassis, suspension, electronics everybody did a great job already and honestly the handling of the bike is impressive. And even, considering the nature of the track, to do these lap times is promising for me, also considering what we are losing in the first two sectors. When I had battles on the track today I was actually surprised how strong we were in some areas. So we keep working!”
Markus Reiterberger: “We’ve made a change from yesterday to today which we benefitted from in the third free practice as I was able to ride fast and consistent lap times. For the Superpole we then made another small adjustment which gave me even more confidence. I had a good start in the race, but then I was a bit unlucky in the first corner and on the back straight. Unfortunately I lost some positions. In the turmoil I could not ride my own rhythm. In addition, it seems that I could not quite brake as I would like to. Then I made a mistake and went wide but I was able to bring home two points, although of course our expectations are higher. But I honestly did not have an ideal feeling with the bike during the race. We will now continue to work on further getting to know, and improving, the whole package.”
A challenging Saturday for the Moriwaki Althea Honda Team in Buriram
The first of two race days at Buriram concludes with a thirteenth-place finish for Leon Camier and a DNF for team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari.
The British Moriwaki Althea Honda Team rider got away well from twelfth on the grid in Race 1, but he slipped back to fourteenth through the opening stages, caught up in traffic.
His race pace then gradually picked up, allowing him to catch up the group of riders immediately ahead of him but at the end of the 20-lap race, Camier nevertheless had to settle for final thirteenth position.
Ryuichi Kiyonari, having finished seventeenth in Superpole, suffered with some vibration right from the early stages of the race, making things difficult to the point that he was forced to retire from the race on lap seven.
Leon Camier 2
“It was a tricky race to be honest. I made a good start and was really strong into turn three, I think I passed a few people around the outside, but then somebody in front of me touched and in reacting I fell back to at least fourteenth. Even though I was able to recover and slightly improve my pace lap by lap, something was not quite right and once I got close to the group in front, I was struggling more, and it became impossible to ride properly. When I got some clear space I could manage, but when I was in the group, something related to the temperature made me struggle. Anyway, we will keep a positive mentality. Every day on track and every race teaches us something and we will keep giving 100 per cent on every occasion.”
Ryuichi Kiyonari 23
“There is not too much to say about my race unfortunately, as soon after the start I started to struggle with some vibration that made it really difficult for me to ride. I ran wide several times, until I realized it was impossible to go on. We’ll take the positives we have had so far this weekend, we have been able to improve our pace every session for example, and we look forward to tomorrow”.
Terrible crash for Eugene in race 1!
On Saturday morning, during the Free Practice 3, Eugene focused on the race pace. He went to the track with used tyres and made several laps on the 34.0: an excellent step ahead of a first race that is expected to be rather tight!
Free practices 3: P 11 1.34.087 + 1.115
In Superpole, Eugene pushes from the beginning, improves his best time in the second lap by seven tenths!
After bringing his Panigale V4-R to the top positions, he returns to the pits to put on the qualifying tyre; the second and definitive time attack starts!
Laverty exploits the great work done by the team, makes good times in the first two sectors and qualifies in P 8. A not exactly perfect lap but getting the third row, a few tenths from the Top 5, can be considered a comforting result waiting for the race.
Superpole: P 8 1.33.037 + 1.125
Scary crash at turn 12 for Eugene Laverty! After losing a few positions at the start, the Go Eleven rider was climbing back up, pressing the Welsh rider Chaz Davies .... then on the third lap he finds himself without the front brake, he is able to skip off in time before the bike hits against the barriers!
Everything is ok for the rider who, once the fear is over, can get back on his V4-R.
The technicians are trying to understand the causes that led to the accident.
Race 1: DNF E. Laverty
“It’s very disappointing to end race one in this way after such a promising weekend. In Superpole we made a good lap time to qualify in 8th position and I was feeling optimistic of a great result in race one. However, on lap 3 I arrived at the final corner with no front brake. I tried to pump the lever three times but no brake pressure arrived and so I had to jump off the side of the bike. It was a scary accident and I’m very fortunate to be able to walk away uninjured. We need to find what exactly went wrong before I return to the track again tomorrow.”
The guys will work all night to reassemble the bike. Tomorrow the Team expects a great revenge, there will be two races available!
Don't miss a race of this fascinating Round 2!
Delbianco battles the heat in race 1 at Buriram
Buriram (Thailand), Saturday 16 March 2019
On track at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand, and in very hot conditions, rider Alessandro Delbianco has completed the first race making up this second Superbike World Championship round, crossing the line in seventeenth place today.
Superpole: Delbianco headed out on track at 1pm local time for the second Superpole of the 2019 season. Working hard with his technicians, Alessandro completed a total of seven laps during the 25-minute session. His best time, a 1’35.596 set in the initial stages, saw him place nineteenth at the session’s end, a result that translated into a sixth-row start for race one.
SBK - Race 1: with track temperatures hovering around 50°C, Delbianco got away well from the sixth row, working to get into a good rhythm over the opening laps. Earning two positions in the early stages, and then another two soon afterwards, the Italian moved up to fifteenth place, and the points zone, on lap nine. Unfortunately a lack of experience saw the Italian lose a little ground in the final phase of the race, finding himself back in seventeenth place, a position he held to the line but one that does not meet with expectations.
“A tough race in very hot conditions. I’m a little disappointed because I’d have liked to have done better. I’m trying to do my best but I know my performance is not sufficient as yet. Tomorrow I’ll work to try and improve my race pace, in the hope that I can improve my final result.”
WorldSSP: Jules Cluzel takes pole position in Buriram
Thrilling WorldSSP Tissot Superpole ends with Frenchman on top and nine riders in a second.
Pirelli Thai Round saw the Tissot Superpole for the FIM Supersport World Championship take place, with Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) taking his first pole position of the season, his first since Donington Park in 2018. Joining him on the front row, the BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team pairing of Randy Krummenacher and Federico Caricasulo – a reversed front row from the opening round of the year.
Heading row two, Japanese star Hikari Okubo, who achieved his best Tissot Superpole grid position of fourth. His previous best was a fifth, also at Donington Park in 2018. Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) finished in fifth position and will look to stay aboard on Sunday, whilst completing row two was Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing), his first time in Thailand on a World Supersport bike not a being a poor showing at all.
Row three sees Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing) with work to do, especially if he wants to give Austria their first ever podium finish. He lines up ahead of the likes of Hector Barbera (Team Toth by Willirace) and 2017 WorldSSP Champion, Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing). Both Barbera and Mahias struggling throughout the session to set a lap time capable of challenging the front runners. Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini Racing) completes the top ten, after his first experience of Thailand in WorldSSP.
Cluzel’s pole position means it is Yamaha’s 75th pole position in the class, whilst it is France’s 74th. Cluzel hasn’t won a race from pole position since Buriram in 2016 and has only won from pole position on four other occasions. Can he change that and give Yamaha their 80th win in WorldSSP?
Pole position - Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA)
“I am so pleased about this result. Our rivals have been very quick since the beginning of the season, but it seems that after Australia we have now found the pace to stay with them. I am really happy, and I want to thank my team because they did a good job in every session and I think we have worked well so far and that we are ready to fight for the win. Temperatures here are extremely high, and there are strong competitors, so I expect a hard battle in the race tomorrow”.
Cluzel Claims Pole Position in Thailand
GMT94 Yamaha Supported WorldSSP rider, Jules Cluzel, will start tomorrow's 17-lap race at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand from pole position, after getting the better of the Evan Bros. Bardahl Yamaha teammates Randy Krummenacher and Federico Caricasulo in this afternoon's Superpole qualifying session.
Krummenacher and Caricasulo will join the GMT94 Yamaha rider on the front row of the grid, starting from second and third positions respectively. Both are confident of challenging Cluzel for the race win tomorrow.
Isaac Viñales, making only his second appearance on the Kallio Racing Yamaha YZF-R6, will start tomorrow from the second row of the grid, having qualified sixth fastest today. The Spaniard’s Kallio Racing Yamaha teammate, Thomas Gradinger, qualified one place further back in seventh and will start tomorrow from the head of the third row.
Loris Cresson qualified in 13th position, two places ahead of Cluzel’s GMT94 Yamaha teammate, Corentin Perolari, who will start 15th.
KRUMMENACHER SCORES SECOND PLACE IN THE TISSOT SUPERPOLE MAKING UP ROUND TWO OF THE SUPERSPORT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Buriram (Thailand) 16 March 2019
The Superbike and Supersport world championships are in a searing hot Thailand, at the Chang International Circuit in the Buriram province for round two. The heat and humidity add an extra challenge for all riders this weekend, but Randy Krummenacher seems to be less affected by the extreme conditions than many, already setting very fast times in yesterday’s practices. He closed Friday’s sessions in second place, setting a best of 1’37.831 to finish just +0.190 of a second from his rival, Frenchman Jules Cluzel. Today, Krummenacher was back on track at 11.35am local time (GMT+7) for the final practice session, in which he once again scored the second fastest time. At 1.40pm local time the Tissot Superpole got underway, establishing grid positions for the race. Krummenacher finished second, stopping the clock on 1’36.855, just +0.029 from first-placed rider Cluzel. The Bardahl Evan Bros rider will therefore line up in second place on the grid. The second race of the Supersport world championship will get underway tomorrow, 17 March, at 2.15pm local time (GMT+7) running over 17 laps.
Krummenacher, having won round one in Australia, is once again feeling positive and hopes to be able to replicate the result he achieved here in Thailand last year.
#RK21: “I’m starting from second tomorrow and it will be a hard-fought race, but I really like the track and know I can do well. Today we improved further and in Superpole, the gap from Cluzel was slight. My feeling with the bike is good and so I think I can run a good race. Last year, I won at this track and also set the lap record. I don’t want to make any predictions, the race is 17-laps long and I’ll give it my all from start to finish. I want to thank my team for their hard work and professionalism.”
Best Ever Superpole For Okubo
Kawasaki Puccetti Racing rider Hikari Okubo scored fourth place on the WorldSSP grid after Superpole qualifying at the Chang International Circuit, with his team-mate Lucas Mahias ninth.
A career best fourth place in Superpole for Okubo was almost a third place, until another rider pipped him to the final front row spot near the end of the 25 minute WorldSSP qualifying session. Just edged out from the top places Hikari was still the best Kawasaki rider in Superpole, at what he has always said is one of his favourite circuits.
Hikari now hopes to set another career best on raceday on Sunday the 17th of March, which would mean a finish of fifth place or better or the Japanese rider.
Mahias, the 2017 World Champion, was unable to set the kind of one lap pace he expected and will now start the 17-lap race on Sunday from the third row of the grid.
Hikari Okubo, stated: “My best performance yet in qualifying and I am happy, but my target was the top three. It is very important to start near the front here and my feeling is very good. I think I can catch the top three riders in the race; it is possible. Tomorrow I will try to go for the podium. My race pace is good and I have ridden in very hot conditions a few times on big bikes at the Suzuka 8 hours so my energy is good also. It will also be important to enjoy the race because I have not started so close to the top riders, but I am coming close to that level. I will be even happier if we can get on the podium tomorrow.”
Lucas Mahias stated: “It is not my best qualification but I am really happy because I improved my lap time compared to yesterday and this morning in FP3. It is difficult at times now for sure but I will try to do my best and continue to work for my mechanics. My job is to continue to work to improve the set-up and the pace, and take the Kawasaki onto the podium.”
Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) was a tenth place qualifier in Superpole, one behind Mahias. Rob Hartog (Team Hartog – Against Cancer Kawasaki) was only cleared to ride on Friday but put in a strong qualifying performance after recent injury, finishing in 17th place from 24 riders in Thailand. Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team Kawasaki) is 19th on the grid now and Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) 22nd.
Danilo and Sebestyen ready to challenge at Chang
Posted on 16th March 2019
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda rider, Jules Danilo improved on his morning lap time by nine tenths of a second during Tissot Superpole today to qualify in twelfth position. Danilo starts tomorrow’s 17-lap World Supersport race at the Chang International Circuit from the fourth row of the grid.
Danilo said: “I am quite happy with the step in terms of lap time we made in that session and the pace as well. Unfortunately I didn’t do a 37 which was important in this session but I feel really confident and comfortable on the bike. I think the team did a good job with the set-up, also I am good on the brakes and there are many opportunities to pass on the brakes at this track so that’s a positive. I think there is a group between 3rdand 7thand that is the group we want to be with tomorrow.”
Despite the lack of laps on Friday, fellow CIA Landlord Insurance Honda rider Peter Sebestyen made a solid improvement in qualifying posting a lap of 1’38.6 and heads up the sixth row of the grid in 16thposition for tomorrow’s race.
Sebestyen said: “Our position is not so good for the race but we improved a lot, it was very important because we missed track time yesterday. We are improving but there is always something new to change on the bike. The team did a great job. In qualifying I didn’t have a good feeling especially on the front so there is a lot of things we can improve for tomorrow and I hope my lap time and my pace will be better. We will work for that that’s for sure.”
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda Team Manager Simon Buckmaster said: “Jules made a big step to 1’38.1. After the first run he did a 38.2 and he said he could go faster. He got a good run behind Cluzel, possibly too fast for a tow and he improved again but it’s not enough. I think he can fight in a group well inside the top ten because once he gets to a lap time he can do the lap time. Realistically we lost FP3, you have to make a step every session; full focus, full concentration. The team did a really good job with him and we made some slight setting changes but most importantly it’s got to come from him. He is learning these things, it’s only his second Supersport race so another good job by him and the team working together to put us in a position to fight well inside the top ten. Obviously our ultimate aim has to be to look higher than that but we take it step by step. Jules comes off the back of a bad season in Moto2 so he is growing in confidence all the time and we are going in the right direction.”
“Peter lost a lot of time in FP2 and made a good step today. I am sure he will fight well inside the points and look to the top ten again. The problem is both of our riders are what you would call ‘racers’ and produce good race performance relative to their qualifying performance but we need to qualify better to put ourselves in a better position for the race. That said I am confident we will have two strong finishes tomorrow and we will keep building. A great job by the whole team again, let’s look forward to the race.”