Jonathan Rea shines bright in World Superbike Championship
A Superb double victory in Thailand yesterday helped Ballyclare's Jonathan Rea extend his lead in this year's World Superbike Championship to 10 points, already justifying his move from Honda to Kawasaki for this year's campaign.
Rea was the stand-out performer at the Chang International Circuit during round two at the all-new venue in Southeast Asia.
He sealed pole position, two emphatic race wins which included two fastest laps, a new circuit lap record and both top steps - meaning the Ulsterman has been installed as a strong favourite to finally land his maiden WSB title this season.
Speaking after his third win from the opening four races of the season, Rea said: "It has been a perfect weekend with pole position and two race wins. We could not have asked for any more."
In the first 20-lap race, Rea led from lights to chequered flag, setting a matchless race pace over his main rivals. Fellow British rider Leon Haslam, on the Red Devils' Aprilia, was second, some six seconds adrift of Rea, with Tom Sykes third on the second Kawasaki.
Race two was a repeat performance from Rea, which gave him his first double in Kawasaki colours after a five-second victory over Haslam. Former British Superbike champion Alex Lowes made it an all-British affair, taking third place on the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki.
Pragmatic in victory, Rea said of his weekend's haul: "These sorts of weekends don't come around a lot, so I want to savour this moment. I'll reflect on what we have achieved tomorrow and enjoy these next few days."
Giving praise to his team, he added: "My team gave me a really great bike and I was able to ride really well. All the crew worked hard all weekend but this is the result of preparation and hard work over the winter.
"Our base setting right now is good and it gives me the confidence to push the boundaries and understand the bike. I have not had many double wins in my career to date, so hopefully we can keep this momentum going."
As a token of appreciation to his team, Rea stopped at a McDonald's on the way to the airport to treat everyone to dinner.
American PJ Jacobsen, a former Cookstown resident during his time with TAS Racing, finished third in the Supersport encounter.
Ratthapark Wilairot was the race winner on the Core Motorsport Honda, taking a fairytale debut victory in the class at his home venue.