Reigning WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea took victory in the second race at Buriram today and becomes the first rider since Neil Hodgson in 2003 to win the first four races in a season.
The factory Kawasaki man made it look easy in a race that was run over two parts after Milwaukee Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori crashed due to a blown engine which rescued the hopes of title challenger Chaz Davies who had crashed his Aruba Ducati at turn two on lap three.
The re-start over 16 laps, which saw Rea on pole as he had been leading from Marco Melandri when the red flag was shown, meant Davies was able to take a grid slot but the Welshman was stone last as the lights went out.
Melandri shot into the lead as the lights were extinguished but Rea was past through turn one as Tom Sykes and Alex Lowes scrapped for third while Eugene Laverty made his way into a potential podium position.
Rea only had the lead for two corners as the Italian slipped back past but it didn’t take Rea long to take control and slowly edge away by remaining in the 1’33s lap bracket while all about slipped into the 1’34s.
Melandri was able to keep Rea in sight but had his own problems with Sykes on the second Kawasaki after the Huddersfield man had managed to get in front of Lowes and pull a gap. It was then a two-horse race for runner-up spot, which Sykes managed to nick under braking into the final corner - the exact same move he put on Melandri yesterday.
Pata Yamaha’s Lowes had a lonely ride for fourth place but, save for a wild pass on Laverty early doors, rode a calm and collected 16-lapper to take more point. The Irishman, who was put out with engine failure yesterday, crashed with eight laps left, losing the front at turn six but re-mounted for a point.
While all this was going on, Davies had made his way into the top ten from 19th but was stuck behind a hard-charging Leon Camier. Davies’ Panigale should be more than a match for the MV in terms of acceleration and straight-line speed but Davies just couldn’t find a way past his old friend.
It took Laverty’s crash, which made Camier sit up, to allow Davies a space to go through and then he only had Jordi Torres as a target. Camier’s race ended with an engine failure as he was shown the meatball flag with six laps left, rolling off the track at turn one.
Torres wasn’t fazed by the attentions of Davies and hung on to fifth spot by two-tenths of a second as they crossed the line. Nicky Hayden ended in seventh with Xavi Fores eighth and Roman Ramos ninth. Markus Reiterberger completed the top ten. Stefan Bradl crashed out with 12 laps to go while Michael Van Der Mark didn’t make the re-start after a fault with his Pata Yamaha.
It leaves Rea with a 30-point margin over Davies at the top of the points table with Sykes eight points further back. Melandri has crept up a little on Lowes, but the Brit is still in fourth place.