Reigning world champion Jonathan Rea had the perfect start to his 2016 season in Australia as he won both opening races in stunning style and leaves Phillip Island with a 14 point lead over his rivals.
Patience seemed to be key for the Northern Irish-man this weekend, as he was challenged for the victory in both races but kept his cool and crossed the line ahead on both occasions.
Making changes to his Ninga ZX-10R ensured he was in a stronger position to defend his race lead in race two, as was proved with his fight against Chaz Davies in the closing laps.
In what could be seen as a terrifying statement for some rivals, the Ulsterman believes he is working at just 90% of the new bikes potential: “It is incredible. We had two really composed races this weekend. I just did my thing and was very patient in both races at the beginning. Today I knew that Chaz would make a move again, a copybook story from yesterday, but he came through when there was no space, went completely wide and, unfortunate for him, he made a mistake.
The set-up changes we made between yesterday and today means the team gave me a bike that was quite easy to ride and I was more ready for attacks. Not just in T4 but in many areas. I thank my team for that. We played the strategy game here in Phillip Island and it really paid off. I feel that we are working at around 85-90% of the potential of the machine.”
Kawasaki Racing Team-mate Tom Sykes didn’t have such a successful weekend in Australia, as mistakes cost him podium finishes and he crossed the line in sixth position in race two.
In a seemingly carbon copy of race one it was the KRT riders leading the way into Doohan corner. But Sykes was a victim of two mistakes during race two; one which saw him miss a gear and slip down the field and a second when a mistake by Italian Davide Giugliano with seven laps remaining pushed the Yorkshire man down into seventh.
After this issue he was unable to keep up with the pace at the front, meaning he crossed the line in sixth position and three seconds behind the race winner, but he takes away the positives of the weekend: “We are definitely knocking on the door in terms of our showings at Phillip Island. I felt really comfortable in race two up until lap ten. Going into the hairpin I struggled on the downshift. I missed gear and ran off the track. Unfortunately, on that lap I lost 1.6 seconds. A couple of laps later Giugliano and I came together and I lost another 1.6 seconds.
Overall, we made a couple of small changes to the bike for today and I felt much, much more comfortable. Unfortunately I was not in the correct track position in the last five laps of the race. I am happy for the progress we have made and it something we can take forward. I have never been great here, for some reason, because I love the place.”