Buriram is a sort of stronghold, in that he's won there on five occasions. In the end, Johnny Rea pulled a rabbit out of the hat today, setting a best of 1’33”327 and powering his Kawasaki into the lead at the end of Friday's practice sessions.
"A positive first day. Times are good though we shouldn't underestimate the rear tyre consumption. We need to make some changes, particularly in terms of mapping, to try and be more competitive."
The new regulation clearly penalises the Kawasaki and the Northern Irish rider doesn't deny this.
“In 2017 I felt very strong in terms of speed. Now it's like riding a Superstock. I can't make the most of acceleration as I did last year, so we need to find a solution”.
Luckily the problem he had with his hand at Phillip Island is just a distant memory.
“I really struggled at Phillip Island. I feel pretty much in top shape here. I've got my physical and mental energies back, and know I'm competitive again, particularly in terms of race pace”.
In a classification that sees four riders within one tenth of a second, Tom Sykes lies just 0.054 behind his team-mate.
“We've continued with the work begun at Phillip Island and I'm pleased. Despite the heat, we are consistent and prepared for the races”.
The Kawasaki rider is pleased with two elements in particular.
“I've had a good response in terms of the frame, finding the right confidence, and I'm fast even when the tyre starts to drop off”.