World Superbikes: Champion Rea makes it three wins from three races

Jonathan Rea leads Marco Melandri during the second World Superbike race at Phillip Island
Jonathan Rea wants to win the World Superbike title for the third year in a row

Northern Ireland's Jonathan Rea continued his perfect start to the World Superbike season by winning Saturday's first race in Thailand.

The defending world champion dominated the 20-lap race, leading from start to finish, and ended up 6.2 seconds ahead of Welsh runner-up Chaz Davies.

Kawasaki rider Rea, 30, won both races at the first round at Phillip Island and now leads Davies by 15 points.

Eugene Laverty retired on the final lap after occupying seventh position.

Rea's success means that he has now won four of the five races held at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram since the Thai round of the series was introduced in 2015.

The County Antrim man took the chequered flag in both races in 2015 and won race one in 2016, with his Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes winning race two.

Rea, who was fastest in practice and qualifying, now has an opportunity to become the first rider since Englishman Neil Hodgson in 2003 to win the first four races of the season.

Kawasaki-mounted Sykes overtook Ducati rider Marco Melandri on the final corner to secure the final podium position, with Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes completing the top six.

"I wanted to get the holeshot and get into a nice rhythm and thankfully I was able to build up a big gap," said Rea after his third triumph of the season.

"The end of last season was really tough but we had a good winter testing programme and the bike feels like it did in 2015. I can do what I want with it and play with it."

World Superbike Championship 2017
1. Jonathan Rea (GB)Kawasaki75
2. Chaz Davies (GB)Ducati60
3. Tom Sykes (GB)Kawasaki 42
4. Alex Lowes (GB)Yamaha36
5. Marco Melandri (Ita)Ducati29
6. Michael van der MarkYamaha27

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