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Jonathan Rea has clinched his first victory of the 2018 World Superbike championship in the opening race in Thailand to slash at Marco Melandri's early points lead.

After seeing Melandri dominate to a double victory at the season opener in Australia, reigning World Superbike champion Rea has struck back with a measured victory in Thailand after seeing off an early challenge from pole-sitter Tom Sykes.

With the Kawasaki teammates trading overtakes for the lead in the first two laps, Rea began to stretch ahead of the chasing pack and built a useful time advantage while Sykes went backwards through the order.

Rea maintained a comfortable lead for the remainder of the race to take his first win of the year and cut Melandri’s lead in the championship down to two points. The win sees Rea extend his impressive record in Buriram having claimed victory in six out of the seven World Superbike races at the Thai track.

Barni Ducati’s Xavi Fores once again starred by taking second place having kept clear of a number of track battles taking place behind him. Red Bull Honda’s Leon Camier and Racing Ducati’s Chaz Davies enjoyed a race-long tussle and after sizing up a pass at the turn 3 hairpin the Welsh rider got the move done two laps from the finish to take the final podium place.

With Camier taking fourth place, Honda’s best result with the new Fireblade, Alex Lowes got the better of Sykes for fifth place while in a similar scrap Lowes’ Pata Yamaha teammate Michael van der Mark grabbed seventh place from Melandri on the final lap.

Milwaukee Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty held off Jordi Torres on the MV Agusta for ninth place at the chequered flag while further back Loris Baz claimed a distant 11th place for Althea BMW.

Fresh from his collarbone break suffered at Phillip Island, Lorenzo Savadori hit back with 12th place for Milwaukee Aprilia as Leandro Mercado (Orelec Kawasaki), Roman Ramos (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Puccetti Kawasaki) rounded out the points places.


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