Rea And New Ninja ZX-10R Win First Race Of 2016
February 27, 2016
Official KRT riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes took turns to lead the thrilling 22-lap Saturday race in the FIM Superbike World Championship on their all-new Ninja ZX-10R machines but it was 2015 champion Rea who emerged with the race victory, as Sykes finished an eventual fifth.
With the two KRT WorldSBK riders starting from the front row after Sykes had qualified on pole and Rea had been third fastest after Superpole 2, the prospects were good from the start, in the first race at this level for the new model ZX-10R.
Rea and Sykes did the early running up front, with Rea then Sykes and then Rea again leading every one of the 22 laps. With up to nine riders forming one leading group and podium challengers all around right to the end the pressure was intense throughout, with Rea finally winning by resisting the late challenge of Ducati rider Chaz Davies.
‘JR’ was passed for a short time after Davies had went inside at the MG hairpin. Jonathan chose the best exit line to ensure Davies could not stay in front at the exit of the corner and won by 0.063 seconds. This was his 30th career win in this category.
Sykes, who had taken his 31st Superpole success earlier in the day rode his new Ninja ZX-10R in the lead from lap three to lap six but had to drop back as he lost ground in two key areas of the circuit. He rallied to finish fifth and score valuable championship points.
The second race of the weekend will take place at 3pm local time in Australia on Sunday 28th.
Jonathan Rea stated: “We expected to be strong because I am so lucky with Pere and my guys. I put all my trust in them, we made a strategy for the winter tests in November and it is clear that it worked. To be strong in the race, to control the race from the front at this track, is so difficult. I had a look every lap on the big screen at MG and I could see the size of the group at the front. It eventually dropped to four guys and in the end three. I put my head down with six laps to go and upped the pace but it was still ‘+0’ on my pit board. Then with three to go I made another push and Chaz was still there. I knew the only way to win the race was to close the door at MG, but he blew it completely wide open! I managed to stop the bike and fire it out. It was not a very pretty last sector but we won the race and have 25 points. I am really happy because all our work paid off.”
Tom Sykes stated: “I think no-one wanted to lead but Jonathan and I had good pace initially but unfortunately I lost a little bit of track position to some other riders. That disturbed my rhythm a bit but we had good pace in the middle and at three quarters distance. Really, it was just on two corners on the track where we struggled and I was able to take an advantage in many areas but I lost it all in two vital areas of the racetrack. I had to ride around this but on the plus side the gap to the front was smaller than we have had in the past here and we are improving the feeling all the time. I am not downbeat and it is a long season. Now we have another race tomorrow.”
Behind the official KRT duo Roman Ramos (GO Eleven Kawasaki) slotted in 11th place and Sylvain Barrier (Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) took the final point on offer for 15th. Grillini Kawasaki rider Dominic Schmitter was 16th and Pedercini Racing Kawasaki rider Saeed Al Sulaiti was 17th in his first ever WorldSBK contest.