Reigning triple WSBK champion Jonathan Rea took back control at Imola in race one, dominating from lights-out to the chequered flag dropping to take a first win at the circuit since 2015. The Ulster sensation cleared off from pole position ahead of teammate Tom Sykes, who has already over half a second down after the opening lap.
Chaz Davies made a mess of the final chicane and ran on, complimenting an already disastrous start. The Welshman had ground to make up and he put on a show for the thousands of track-side Ducati fans, clambering back up to fourth by the end of the 19-lap encounter.
Marco Melandri was a force to reckoned with, not near the front of the field but nearly two seconds ahead of teammate Davies, to give Ducati some silverware in front of their home crowd. Melandri’s third is his first podium since race two at Aragon.
Xavi Fores and Michael Ruben Rinaldi both enjoyed strong performances in the opening race, with a 5th and 7th place respectively. The 5th place for Fores means that he is one of just three riders in which – out of the races they’ve finished – has finished in the top five in all of them. Rea and Davies are the others.
Yamaha endured a miserable day, miles away from the podium, with Michael van der Mark in 6th and Alex Lowes 10th. Leon Haslam pipping the 2013 BSB champion on the short burst to the line. Honda also had a bad day at the office, with Leon Camier’s replacement in Jason O’Halloran crashing out of the race early on and PJ Jacobsen not even making the start. Jake Gagne was 16th, meaning it is the first race since Jerez race one where a Honda has not scored points.
Rea now leads the title charge by 42 points from Chaz Davies going into the second race tomorrow.
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