Reigning World Champion Jonathan Rea experienced ‘deja-vu’ this weekend as he secured the first victory of the season at Phillip Island with the #1 shod Kawasaki.
In a race long battle for the victory which involved up to eight riders mid-way through the race, the Irishman was able to hold off a pack of determined riders in order to take the win.
In the final laps it was down to Rea to hold off Chaz Davies and Micheal van der Mark, with Davies putting in a move through MG corner Rea was able to quickly get the lead back despite going against his plan to close the door at the tight corner.
Crossing the line 0.063s ahead of Davies, Rea took the opening victory of the season for the second year in a row: “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.”
Kawasaki Racing team-mate Tom Sykes was unable to keep a hold of his race leading pace and crossed the line in fifth position, 3.429s off his team-mate.
Although the former world champion was up and fighting for the victory he slipped down a few positions on lap eight of 22 which disturbed his pace around the flowing circuit.
Unable to make it back up to the leading trio, Sykes was able to hold off Sylvain Guintoli aboard the Pata Yamaha for fifth position.
Sykes explains his drop off in pace: “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.”