By Haydn Cobb

The World Superbike championship race two grid reverse rule is two rounds old and after the initial backlash talk has gone quiet. Riders have certainly learnt to adjust to it but what has changed?

Upon the announcement over the winter that World Superbikes was set for a shake-up there was plenty of split opinions as the paddock adjusted to the fact that the race one winner would be rewarded by being sent to the back of row three and joined by his fellow rostrum finishers with second place slotting into eighth and third into seventh on the race two grid.

By coincidence the opening two rounds in Australia and Thailand saw identical top threes with Jonathan Rea the victor, Chaz Davies in second place and Tom Sykes in third.

Looking at the race results alone the obvious winner, and wholeheartedly deserving so, has been Rea with his flawless start to 2017 capped by his two charges from ninth on the grid to victory while Davies and Sykes have come slightly unstuck.

In Australia Sykes struggled to follow Rea and Davies through the pack at his bogey track and was forced to settle for sixth place.

While in Thailand Davies hit trouble when he tipped off following team-mate Marco Melandri before producing an impressive comeback to go from 19th to sixth in between a red flag stoppage.

Sykes: We need to close the gap faster

The jury remains out on its full effect on the top riders having seen Rea prosper while Davies and Sykes hit trouble but gimmicky or not the racing action was spiced up - albeit at least for the opening laps as the top three picked their way through the field.

The biggest winners in all of this? Sponsors and primarily Pata Yamaha so far. Paul Denning's squad may have suffered podium near-misses in the opening two rounds with Alex Lowes finishing fourth in three out of four races but a gift-wrapped Phillip Island 'pole' in Australia plus both YZF-R1 machines on the revised front row in Thailand gave the Pata Yamaha bikes maximum presence and exposure.

Perhaps it is no surprise Denning was one of the most vocal supporters of the new rule.

In a sport which depends on sponsors' support, trying to keep every single one happy is a tough task but one aided by an unfamiliar front trio in race two. Seeing a Pata Yamaha, an MV Agusta and a Barni Ducati take to the front row at Phillip Island certainly was a refreshing change and largely didn't compromise the action with fans and TV companies treated to a Rea versus Davies masterclass in the shuffled pack.

The true test will come at circuits where the level of competition is much fairer such as Aragon, co-incidentally up next at the end of the month, where Rea and company may struggle to carve through the order so easily. This is where, in all likelihood, the race one pecking order will remain relatively familiar but could spark the shake-up most feared by those that were vocally against the change.

So far so good but bigger examinations remain until the grid change can be carved into World Superbike rulebook as a permanent fixture.