Jonathan Rea has taken his fifth victory of the 2017 World Superbike season after a thrilling battle with Ducati’s Chaz Davies, which also saw the Welsh rider crash out on the penultimate lap. Marco Melandri picked up the pieces in second, whilst Tom Sykes filled the final podium place in third.
Starting from pole, Davies flew off the line, taking the holeshot from Rea and and Melandri. His lead however was short lived as the Kawasaki rider made his way past coming into turn eight. The speed and grip of the Ducati was vital in the race proceedings as Davies made his way past Rea on the long straight, taking back the race lead and the pair began to establish a small gap over the rest of the field.
Over the next 18 laps an incredible battle ensued between the pair, with Rea using the Kawasaki’s far superior agility to get past Davies in the tight twisty sections but when they both tussled in the long corners, it was the Ducati rider getting the advantage and retaking the race lead.
For the remaining laps the pair put on a show for their Spanish audience, making incredible overtakes all over the circuit. However with two laps to go the race went horribly wrong for Davies as he lost the front of his Panigale at the final turn which ultimately cost him the victory and put his championship hopes in serious doubt as Rea streaked away to take his fifth consecutive victory of the season and also extend his lead in the championship to 47 points over his teammate Tom Sykes in second.
Marco Melandri also benefited from the crash of his teammate as he crossed the line in second position, the Italian was involved in a small battle with Sykes however quickly dispatched of the Brit as the race went on. Sykes third place in the race sees him promoted to second in the world championship.
Alex Lowes stormed from 12th place on the grid, to take a remarkable fourth place, which also sees the Yamaha rider start from pole position for Sunday’s race two. Michael van der Mark rounded off a successful Saturday for the Yamaha team as he finished close behind his teammate in fifth.
Jordi Torres gave the home fans something to cheer about as he came home a fine sixth with Leandro Mercado completing his first race of the season in a very impressive seventh position. Eugene Laverty finished a disappointing eighth but with a day to look over his data, the Irish rider will be hoping to put in a good performance on Sunday as he starts from fifth on the grid. The Red Bull Honda duo of Stefan Bradl and Nicky Hayden completed the top ten.
Leon Camier finished an improved 11th despite his problems this weekend, with German rider Markus Reiterberger finishing a lonely 12th. Julian Simon had a successful debut, scoring points in 13th, with Randy Krummenacher and Alex De Angelis rounding out the rest of the point scorers in 14th and 15th respectively.
Xavi Fores had an unfortunate crash at the start of the race which ruined his chances of scoring a podium in front of his home fans.