Kawasaki Racing’s Jonathan Rea notched up his 42nd World Superbike race win this weekend after a dominant double in Thailand, leading him to brand this as his ‘best ever start’ to a world champion campaign.
The Northern Irishman has been in imperious form all weekend, posting devastatingly fast race runs in practice and smashing the lap record by over four tenths of a second to take pole position on Saturday.
Rea didn’t hang around in the first race, darting off into the distance from the first lap to take his third successive victory of 2017 by over six seconds.
Starting from ninth in race two, Rea admitted afterwards that he was nervous, as the Buriram track is a hard one to pass around. However, these fears were never realised and he blasted his way into the lead in the space of four laps.
“This is my best ever start to the season, I’m feeling good with the bike,” an overjoyed Rea said.
“I was so nervous about the ninth place start, to be honest, because this track is so hard to pass, especially with the speed of the Ducatis.”
The double world champion cited Marco Melandri as his biggest threat, as the Italian had been strong all weekend up to Sunday, and attributes his success to a ZX-10RR that worked incredibly well in the final two sectors of the track.
“Melandri is so hard to pass, but I’m really lucky this weekend that I had sector three pretty dialld and as soon as I got into something there, and by T4 I put my head down and managed to snap Marco after three of four laps.
“This win is a massive thanks to my team and all my mechanics; it’s been a hot weekend and they’ve been working relentlessly, so these race wins are for them.”
Rea’s double this weekend saw him make yet more history, as he became the first rider since Neil Hodgson in 2003 to win the opening four races of the season.
His victory today is also 199th for a British rider in WorldSBK, and puts him one away from ‘Nitro’ Noriyuki Haga’s tally of 43 wins.
The Kawasaki rider now heads to the next round of the 2017 season in Aragon in three weeks’ time with a fairly comfortable 30-point advantage over second-placed man Chaz Davies, a margin that could prove pivotal at a circuit the Ducati rider is traditionally excellent at.