WSBK: Jonathan Rea extends championship advantage in Thailand

Tom Sykes leads Jonathan Rea and Chaz Davies in the second World Superbike race in Thailand on Sunday.
Tom Sykes leads Jonathan Rea and Chaz Davies in the second World Superbike race in Thailand on Sunday.

Jonathan Rea says he will draw extra motivation from his defeat against his Kawasaki World Superbike team-mate Tom Sykes following a titanic battle between the pair in the closing laps of race two on Sunday.

Reigning world champion Rea had the edge over Yorkshireman Sykes in Saturday’s opening race at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand, stalking his rival before making a critical pass four laps from the finish and narrowly holding on for his third straight victory of 2016.

I just wanted to win the race. To get beaten is really great for my motivation - Jonathan Rea

The Ulster rider and Sykes locked horns in a frenetic second race, with neither rider prepared to give an inch as they tussled for the lead.

Welshman Chaz Davies also emerged as a threat on the Aruba.it Ducati, but ultimately last year’s championship runner-up wasn’t quite able to force himself into a position where he could attempt a pass on the final laps as he lurked menacingly behind the Kawasaki riders in third.

Desperate not to be outdone by his team-mate once again, Sykes defended his lines ferociously and although Rea hit the front briefly on the penultimate lap, Sykes hit straight back to set up a thrilling finale.

Rea attempted the same pass on the last lap and appeared to have made it stick, only to drift wide at the next turn, enabling Sykes to sweep through into the lead again.

The English rider was in no mood to relinquish his position and boldly blocked Rea as he sought a way past, holding his line through the last turns before firing his ZX-10R across the line to seal his first victory since Jerez last year by just under two tenths of second.

Rea said: “I really wanted to win and I tried two or three times but to win a race against Tom when he is strong, and defending very well, you have to go really deep. Massive credit to him; he did a good job today and beat us flat out. It is good for Kawasaki to have a 1-2 although I would prefer to be the guy in front.

“We increased our championship lead from Phillip Island and it has been a good day, but I just wanted to win the race. To get beaten is really great for my motivation.”

Davies finished a close third with Michael van der Mark - third in race one - taking fourth for Honda.

Rea leads Sykes at the top of the standings by 29 points after the opening two rounds with van der Mark a further three points in arrears.

Round three of the championship will take place at Motorland Aragon in Spain from April 1-3.