Belfast Telegraph

Jonathan Rea already streaking ahead of pack in World Superbike Championship defence

By Paul Lindsay

Ballyclare's Jonathan Rea extended his lead at the top of the World Superbike Championship standings to 29 points after a win and a second place during round two at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand on Saturday and yesterday.

The reigning World Superbike Champion came into round two having won both races at the season curtain-raiser in Australia a fortnight ago, but couldn't quite keep his 100 per cent win rate going, despite taking Saturday's opening race victory.

The Isle of Man-based Ulsterman out-gunned his factory Kawasaki team-mate and bitter rival Tom Sykes en route to that race one victory on Saturday, stating that he 'emptied the tank' to make it three wins from as many starts this season.

Yesterday it was another case of 'all green' at the head of proceedings with 2013 champion Sykes looking to strike back at Rea, and that's exactly what he did, capitalising on a number of small uncharacteristic mistakes from Rea to head him home by just 0.190sec.

Chaz Davies fought valiantly for third place on the underpowered Ducati.

Despite being magnanimous in defeat, there was a tangible air of frustration in the Ulsterman's voice during his post-race interview, when he said: "I had to dig even deeper in that race, because I realised I had much better pace than Tom around lap seven, but then he changed his strategy and his objective was to block me every time I passed him."

Recounting some of the hard moved handed out by Sykes, on parts of the track where both Kawasakis were battling at over 150mph, Rea added: "It was actually a bit scary in places, especially on the straights, but I enjoyed the race and Tom did a great job at the front.

"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 I really enjoyed the fight."

Looking ahead, Rea concluded: "It's good for Kawasaki to have a one-two - although I would prefer to be the guy in front.

"I am sure it was a nice show to watch and on a positive note, we increased our championship lead from Phillip Island.

"To get beaten is really great for my motivation actually."

Three wins from the opening four races is exactly how the Ulsterman began his title-winning season 12 months ago, but his series lead is greater this time around.

Round three of the championship takes place at Aragon in Spain on April 1/2/3.

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