Jonathan Rea battles through the elements to increase his lead at top of World Superbike table
Ballyclare's Jonathan Rea extended his lead at the top of the World Superbike Championship to 42 points after taking his 11th and 12th consecutive podiums of the season in Malaysia on Saturday and Sunday despite difficult conditions.
The reigning world champion took second place during Saturday's opening race on his factory Kawasaki behind his team-mate Tom Sykes, and backed it up with third place on Sunday in wet and miserable conditions behind America's Nicky Hayden - who posted his debut win in the series for Honda, with Italian David Giugliano second for Ducati.
Rea led early on in race two and was able to hold onto a good pace for most of the race, even fighting back in the later stages to reclaim third place and a podium from his nearest championship rival Chaz Davies.
In doing so he managed to keep his points total moving ahead once again and he now has 257 points to Davies' 215, after six rounds.
Speaking of his weekend, Rea said: "It is so difficult during a weekend when you have all dry sessions, a dry race one, and then two hours before race two a monsoon comes in."
Recounting race two, and his weekend in general, Rea (below) said: "I am proud of my team because they were so reactive to the changing conditions. I feel we got it quite close and my bike was giving me quite a lot of feedback out there.
"The strategy in the wet was just to get into a rhythm. So when I set off it was just about managing everything. Hayden was too far in front for me to want to really grit my teeth and go for him," he said of the American former MotoGP world champion who went on to win his opening race in WSB. Rea added: "I was happy with our performance and that was the maximum we could achieve.
"Maybe if I had the opportunity to race again, maybe I could have gone with Nicky in the beginning, but third was the result we got today and we achieved our target for the weekend, which was to increase our championship lead, so I am happy we did that."
His main championship rival Chaz Davies could only manage a solitary podium in Saturday's opening race with third place on the factory Ducati, but dropped seven points to Rea over the weekend in the championship chase, which the Ulsterman has well in his control.
The seventh round of the World Superbike Championship takes place at Donington Park in the UK on May 28/29.