Images by ARESSP
Chaz Davies broke Kawasaki’s monopoly of race wins at Chang International Circuit on Sunday, by taking a well crafted victory in World Superbike Race 2.
The reverse grid, often dismissed by critics as irrelevant, helped to serve up plenty of drama on this occasion, as the Pata Hondas of Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes battled for supremacy at the front from the start. Jonathan Rea, starting from the third row, looked ready to make an early challenge at the end of lap 2, but got crossed up on the entry to the final turn dropped back to fifth. It was a mistake he was unable to recover from and Kawasaki found itself off the podium completely. The three times World Champion had an uncharacteristically untidy race and Tom Sykes struggled from the start, eventually retiring on lap 13.
Marco Melandri’s Aruba Ducati was plagued with hairy looking speed wobbles from the start, but the Italian persisted bravely to finish seventh to collect nine championship points for his efforts.
Eugene Laverty crashed his Milwaukee Aprilia at Turn 6 on Lap 6 and was hit by Torres as he fell from a mistake of his own. The Irishman was taken to the Medical Centre and then to Buriram Hospital for checks and treatment. Davies put his Ducati between the two Yamahas and Melandri closed in on Lowes in third. Rea and Fores made up the leading group of six.
While the Pata Yamahas battled at the front, Davies was the man on the move. After starting the second lap of the race in eighth, the Welshman took Melandri’s third place on lap three and set off after Lowes and van der Mark. He pushed Lowes back to third on lap seven and, one lap later, went into the lead. Van der Mark stuck with Davies, and the pair pulled out a gap of 1.8 seconds over Lowes by half distance. Rea passed Melandri on lap 10 to get into fifth position as Camier began to move within striking distance of the Italian, moving ahead on lap 12. Davies, looking increasingly poised at the front, began to build a margin over VDM. Lowes, meanwhile, had to deal with close attention from the in-form Xavi Fores, who in turn found himself under pressure from the world champion. Lowes responded well, breaking the tow with the Spanish independent rider and leaving him to deal with Rea, who passed him for fourth place on lap 18.
Toprak Razgatlioglu rode well for Kawasaki Puccetti to finish eighth, five seconds ahead of Luca Savadori and PJ Jacobsen, who were chased hom by MotoGP refugees, Yonny Hernandez and Loris Baz. Roman Ramos was 13th and Jake Gagne was the last finisher a few hundredths behind at the line.
The regulatory tweaks on rev limits certainly are enhancing the World Superbike show in 2018. Not only have there been three winners in the first four races, but the gap between the first and last finishers has halved from a little over a minute in 2017 to just 30 seconds in yesterday’s race. Click here for full results.
Relatively good news following Eugene Laverty’s nasty looking crash came from the Irishman himself on Monday morning, when he tweeted, “Thanks everyone for the encouraging messages. Broken pelvis won’t keep me away for long. I had a successful op last night in Buriram for some internal damage so we’re on the road to recovery.”