The 2017 World Superbike season finally kicked off at Phillip Island in the early hours (GMT) of Saturday morning.
Jonathan Rea heads into the first round ready to defend his title for the third year in a row – but the competition is fiercer than ever.
Rea started in pole position ahead of team mate Tom Sykes and Ducati’s Marco Melandri. He set a stunning new lap record – 1:29.573, but the others weren’t far behind.
A huge wobble for Davies appeared not to faze him. He ran offline at turn 1 but managed to regain composure, and qualified in 4th for the first race of the year.
When race one commenced, Rea, Davies, Sykes, Lowes and Melandri all took turns leading, but it was eventually Rea that crossed the line just 0.042 seconds in front of Chaz Davies and 1.050 seconds in front of Sykes.
We see Melandri returning to the championship with the Aruba.it Ducati team; one of the most competitive bikes on the grid. He led the race for several laps, before sadly crashing out at the Southern Loop with only 8 laps remaining.
Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha) and Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) put in a really great effort today. Neither of them had particularly spectacular seasons last year, but today’s race shows the effort they have put in with the bikes to help them be the competitive riders we know they both can be. Lowes and Camier finished in 4th and 5th respectively, rounding out an all Brit top 5.
World Superbike Race 1 Results:
Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki Racing Team
Chaz Davies – Aruba.it Ducati + 0.042s
Tom Sykes – Kawasaki Racing Team + 1.050s
Alex Lowes – Pata Yamaha Official WSBK Team + 1.082s
Leon Camier – MV Agusta Reparto Corse + 3.002s
Xavi Fores – BARNI Racing Team + 3.320s
Jordi Torres – Althea BMW + 8.725s
Eugene Laverty – Milwaukee Aprilia + 12.135s
Michael van der Mark – Pata Yamaha Official WSBK Team + 12.180s
Randy Krummenacher – Kawasaki Puccetti Racing + 12.439s
Marco Melandri 7 laps
Josh Brookes 16 laps
Lorenzo Savadori 17 laps
Coverage will continue tomorrow in the early hours on Eurosport, with race two and all the supporting classes.
The new grid format will see Alex Lowes start on pole position, ahead of Camier and Fores.
(photo credit: roadracingworld.com)