In hot conditions at the 4.554km-long Chang International Circuit the racing line proved to be clean from the start as Rea and Haslam began their build up to the first Buriram WorldSBK race on Saturday.
The heat and humidity in Thailand mean that front and rear tyre duration comes into play over full race distance, so both KRT riders spent time working on clarifying their raceday options, as well as finding set-up improvements specific to this circuit.
Rea made use of his 2019 Ninja ZX-10RR’s enhanced upper rev limit in finishing second overall today, noticing more top end performance on the long straights at this stadium-style track. He also concentrated his efforts on braking performance.
The opening day challenge was a stiffer one for Haslam at this venue, as he had to relearn a circuit he last rode at in 2015, and which features some new areas of asphalt compared to the only previous time Leon has raced here.
Now Haslam and Rea will move forward to FP3 on Saturday, followed by Superpole qualifying and then the first 20-lap race of the weekend. It is scheduled to start at 16.00hrs local time in Thailand, on Saturday the 16th of March.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “We were building into it this morning and we got off to a good start. Step-by-step we improved the bike and were getting into a rhythm in that second free practice session, where we started to make some steps with set-up. I wanted to do a consistent long run but we had to confirm which tyre we will use for tomorrow, at the front and the rear. In some areas of this track I also want to improve my braking. We found some positives in all that so - putting it together - I felt pretty good out there. We can look at the finer details tonight but already we are on the way.”
Leon Haslam, stated: “I thought I had a good handle on the track after racing here four years ago but it has taken me a little bit of time to get my head around the layout again. We stuck to our strategy and just used one tyre in each session, feeling a good rhythm, but we just need to find a little bit more pace. There is a lot of different tarmac from when I last rode here in 2015, so I am working out where those new bumps are, where it is grippy and where it is not. I am still finding braking points, which is just taking a bit of time. We are chipping away every lap, feeling better and better. It is hot out there but it is the same for everyone.”
Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) was the fastest Kawasaki independent rider today, 13th overall, with Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) 15th. Local wildcard rider Thitipong Warokorn (Kawasaki Thailand Racing Team) placed 17th and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) 18th.
2019 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018
2019: Races 3, Wins 0, Podiums 3, Superpoles 1
Career Race Wins: 71 (56 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 137 (95 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 17 (13 for Kawasaki)
2019: Races: 3, Wins 0, Podiums 2, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 5 (0 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 41 (3 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 3 (0 for Kawasaki)
6 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
4 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017 & 2018)
4 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 127 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 385 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 82 – second overall