The opening WorldSBK round of the year showed that the regulations have helped to shake up the order but the real test will be in the coming rounds.
Buriram, host of the Thai Round of WorldSBK, has been a Kawasaki stomping ground in recent years, and while the green machines will be favorites once again, the effect of the changes could see their wings clipped.
Is Rea Still the Man to Beat?
Without doubt, the gap at the front has been closed, but Rea is still very much the man to beat. The triple world champion might be playing catch-up to Marco Melandri after Round 1, but Buriram has been a happy hunting ground for him.
With five wins, and a runner-up finish, in three years he will be confident of reasserting himself.
Can Melandri Back It Up?
The Italian was inspired in Australia, and having stood on the rostrum in Thailand last year, he will be as motivated as ever to continue his run of form.
The Ducati has historically struggled in the heat and humidity of Thailand, the power of the twin-cylinder machine being sapped by cooling issues in the heat, but the Italian squad is confident they have found a solution to their past woes.
Aprilia and Honda Look to Spring a Surprise
While much is expected of Aprilia and Yamaha in 2018, the steps made by this pair of teams is sure to be a focal point of the weekend.
Both had good starts to the year in Australia, and Milwaukee Aprilia is especially keen to be able to show their true potential after a crash-strewn opening round.
A Superpole crash ruled Lorenzo Savadori out of action, and the Italian is back on his bike following a fractured collarbone. Eugene Laverty crashed out of the Race 2 lead, and is keen to show the progress is real with a good result at a challenging circuit.
For Honda, the goal is to prove that Phillip Island wasn’t a fluke, and that they have made legitimate progress. It will be worth keeping a tab on both bikes this weekend.
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