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Seconds out, round two! WorldSBK set for Thai tussles this weekend

Friday, March 15 2019

The second round of the 2019 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship takes place this weekend at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand, with current series leader Alvaro Bautista looking to repeat his perfect debut performances.

The Spanish former MotoGP rider won all three races on his debut in Australia last time out, and signs of a rivalry between himself and long-time series dominator Jonathan Rea are already starting to appear.

The pair went at it hammer and tongs in free practice today (Friday), with both constantly exchanging fastest laps in the first session, and the Spaniard eventually claiming the fastest time, a couple of tenths clear. Bautista then topped the second session of the day by three-tenths of second with Rea again in second place.

Speaking ahead of the weekend, Bautista commented: "Australia was a dream weekend and I couldn't have asked for a better start in World Superbike. For sure our rivals will be tough to beat, so we have to remain focussed and work really hard during the weekend. Anyway we will go to Thailand with the same mentality, I know the right feeling with the bike now so I will try and find it there as well. The Panigale V4 R is still a completely new bike, and the potential is high but we've got a lot of work to do to get it to 100%."

Speaking to WorldSBK.com, Rea noted: "Last year, we came out of round one far behind [Marco] Melandri. We got pretty hammered, but we won the championship by nearly 200 points because I never felt like 'I've made it.' If I was beaten it wasn't good enough and I always kept working. I enjoy competition. It fires me up. Right now, Alvaro seems to be the guy that everyone's talking about, but it will be after a few more races that we know for sure. After them we'll see whether a Yamaha steps up or Honda or BMW or whatever. When we get to Europe you understand your competition. You've got to respect what Alvaro did in Australia but it's motivating us too."

Again, there will be three races in Thailand this weekend, with five further race weekends to follow before the field assemblesat Donington for the only UK round of the series. Full information and ticket booking details for the UK round can be found here.