Kawasaki man takes win in first race of 2017, with Davies and Sykes also on the podium
In a brilliant first race of the 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island on Saturday Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) took a superb win, to start the season in style. Rea beat Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) by just 0.042s across the line as the pair battled hard to the last corner, with Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) also on the podium.
An enthralling race was the perfect way to start the 30th season of the WorldSBK championship, with Rea, Davies, Sykes, Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) all taking turns in the lead.
Lowes briefly led mid-race and would eventually finish fourth, crossing the line just over a second behind Rea and just 0.032s behind Sykes.
Melandri made a spectacular return to the championship in his first WorldSBK race since 2014, taking the lead off the line and running at the front for several laps only for his day to end in frustration after a crash at the Southern Loop with 8 laps to go.
An excellent showing from Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) saw the Englishman cross the line three seconds behind race winner Rea to complete an all British top five.
A solid start to the season by Spaniards Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) and Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) saw them take sixth and seventh respectively.
Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia), Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Randy Krummenacher (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) completed the top ten, with Krummenacher producing an impressive ride on his WorldSBK debut.
Nicky Hayden (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) and Markus Reiterberger (Althea BMW Racing Team) were 11th and 12th respectively, whilst debutant Stefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) was 15th. Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) crashed at Turn 6 with 17 laps to go, dashing the hopes of the Italian of a good point-scoring start to the year.
Race 2 at 3pm local time on Sunday at the Yamaha Finance Australian Round will see Rea looking to make it a double victory weekend, but his rivals will be pushing him hard at every turn.
Great opening weekend for defending champion, with Davies and Melandri also on the Race 2 podium
The season-opening Yamaha Finance Australian Round at Phillip Island saw Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) wrap up a double victory in a superb Sunday race, with Aruba.it Racing – Ducati pair Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri also on the podium.
A superb last lap battle between four riders for podium positions saw Rea come out on top again, with Davies a close second (+0.025s), whilst Melandri rode excellently for third (+0.249s) and Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) collected more good points in fourth having led the race early on.
Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) finished fifth, whilst Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) ended up at the back of a group of six riders who had been battling for the podium positions.
Behind that front group, it was Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) who crossed the line in seventh and eighth respectively for a good haul of points, whilst Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) and Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) also registered top ten results.
After his solid fourth in Race 1 on Saturday Lowes made an excellent start from the head of the reshuffled Race 2 grid to lead the way in the opening stages, with Laverty and Fores also getting in the mix early on. Rea soon came through from ninth though, making light work of the challenge of the new regulations for 2017 which sees the grid reshuffled on Sunday further to the Race 1 results.
Rea took over in the lead with 17 laps to go, as Davies also soon came through to contest the lead, with Lowes fighting to stay with the Welshman and Rea for a podium result.
Melandri emerged as a contender in the second half of the race, having steadily fought his way to the front from tenth on the grid after his WorldSBK comeback on Saturday ended in a disappointing DNF. The Italian was delighted to return to the podium at the end of Race 2 as he kept Rea and Davies in his sights.
A technical issue saw Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) pull off track and out of contention in the Warm Up lap. Nicky Hayden (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) crashed with 14 laps to go, with additional crashes for Riccardo Russo (Guandalini Racing) and Ayrton Badovini (Grillini Racing Team).
The WorldSBK riders will be back in action at the second round of the season, the Motul Thai Round, over the 10th-12th March weekend.
The RacerViews information
By Leonard Smith, February 2017
Words from WorldSBK PR
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