Saturday’s racing at the Spanish Round saw Jonathan Rea register his first victory as the recently crowned 2017 WorldSBK champion, taking advantage of a late technical issue for provisional race leader Marco Melandri.
With his first ever win at Jerez, Rea was joined on the podium at the end of a restarted Race 1 at Round 12 by Chaz Davies and Tom Sykes.
On his way to equaling Carl Fogarty’s career podium record of 109 rostrum results in WorldSBK Rea took over at the front after Melandri pulled off with a problem with four laps to go.
Rea had taken control of the restarted race in the early stages and led for several laps before Melandri made a move with 13 laps to go at turn 9 up the inside of the Northern Irishman. Davies then followed Melandri through to overtake Rea, but Rea soon responded to retake the Welshman and slot back in behind the Italian.
As Melandri chased his second race win in 2017, since his return to WorldSBK at the start of the year, cruel luck saw him pull off towards the end of the race, leaving Rea to take the glory.
Sykes produced a solid ride in third place as he continues to recover from wrist and finger injuries sustained in Portugal in September, with Davies crossing the line just under 0.5s ahead of him in second.
It was another strong performance from Alex Lowes as he collected more good points on the Yamaha YZF R1, crossing the line fourth, 3.677s ahead of his teammate Michael van der Mark who was fifth.
2014 World Champion Sylvain Guintoli’s return to action on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR saw him finish a creditable sixth, in the first of four races he will ride for the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing at the final two rounds of the season.
The top ten was rounded out by Milwaukee Aprilia duo Lorenzo Savadori and Eugene Laverty and Spanish pair Xavi Fores and Roman Ramos - in seventh to tenth places respectively.
Turn 13 proved to be unlucky for Takumi Takahashi as he lost the front end of his Honda CBR1000RR, though he picked it up to finish 16th. Takahashi’s Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team colleague Davide Giugliano was an unfortunate late retiree.
In the initial race start a turn 6 crash on the first lap involving Ayrton Badovini and Raffaele de Rosa (Althea BMW Racing Team) brought out the red flags.
After a short break the race was recommenced with a quick restart procedure with the riders keeping their focus in the clear conditions in Andalusia on the resurfaced Jerez track, though neither Badovini nor De Rosa made it back onto the grid.
Race 2 for the WorldSBK riders at the Pirelli Spanish Round takes place at 1pm on Sunday.
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