Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea has prevailed in a spectacular season-opening 22-lap world superbike race at Phillip Island.
The reigning world champion’s third win in a row at Phillip Island – and his fourth victory in the last five races at the island – came after a ding-dong scrap with arch-rival Chaz Davies (Ducati) and in front of a myriad of Phillip Island fans who have adopted the Northern Irishman as their own. (He is married to Phillip Island girl, Tatia Weston.)
In typical Phillip Island style, it all came down to the last lap, with Davies managing to get his nose in front briefly before 30 year old Rea returned the compliment. Davies then stalked Rea for the remainder of the lap, and a valiant effort to draft past the world champion on the final blast down Gardner Straight saw him fall short by just 0.042 seconds.
It was Rea’s 39th WorldSBK win in a resume that continues to grow into legendary status, while Davies’ six-race winning streak from 2016 has now come to an end.
Sykes flashed across the line 1.050 seconds behind Rea to complete the podium, just holding off the advances of Alex Lowes who produced his most impressive performance in Yamaha colours.
Leon Camier (MV Agusta) and privateer Xavi Fores (Ducati) also produced outstanding efforts to finish in fifth and sixth, with Jordi Torres (BMW), Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) , Michael van der Mark (Yamaha) and rookie Randy Krummenacher (Kawasaki) completing the top 10.
Italian Marco Melandri’s return to WorldSBK competition after a two-year absence ended with a crash on lap 15, while Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia) was another to go down.
Australia’s Josh Brookes (Yamaha) only lasted six laps before retiring.
Race two will be held at 3:00pm tomorrow.
For full Race 1 results visit www.worldsbk.com.au.
WorldSBK Race 1 Results:
1. Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki – Gap: 0.042
2. Chaz Davies – Ducati
3. Tom Sykes – Kawasaki
4. Alex Lowes – Yamaha
5. Leon Camier – MV Agusta
6. Xavi Fores – Ducati
7. Jordi Torres – BMW
8. Eugene Laverty – Aprilia
9. Michael van der Mark – Yamaha
10. Randy Krummenacher – Kawasaki
Australian: Josh Brookes retired on lap 6
The 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship kicks off at Australia’s Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit with the Yamaha Finance round from February 24-26, and is set to be a scorcher. Go to www.worldsbk.com.au for event information.
Tickets are available at the gate