Twenty hot laps of Jerez with the first World Superbike race in five months. At least four riders are capable of taking the title in the shortened calendar.
Jonathan Rea led from getting a good start from second place on the grid, with Toprak Razgatlioglu, Scott Redding, Tom Sykes and Loris Baz behind him. Baz dispatched Sykes on the first lap, and rounded out the leading pack.
The front four riders started to break away from fifth-placed Tom Sykes with Rea setting the fastest lap with a 1'40.801 on lap two. Loris Baz struggled to keep up with the leading trio, but he was able to make up lost ground every time it looked like he lost touch with them.
On lap four, Tom Sykes pulled out of the race with a mechanical issue, giving the lead group a gap of over two seconds from Chaz Davies who had escaped from the fight behind him, leaving Michael van der Mark, Alvaro Bautista, Michael Ruben Rinaldi, Leon Haslam and Alex Lowes to fight over sixth place.
At the halfway point, Michael van der Mark pulled out of the race, with his Yamaha's engine smoking and bringing out oil warning flags, but nobody was affected by any potential oil.
At the start of lap twelve, Scott Redding had had enough of the heat of two bikes in front of him and he powered past Toprak Razgatlioglu and passed him into turn one, taking second place in the leading group of four. Chaz Davies was almost three seconds off the leading group, but he started to close the gap at a pace of three tenths of a second a lap.
Razgatlioglu kept looking for a way past Redding, as their lines into and out of corners were visibly different, but Redding was able to hold off the challenger behind him.
On lap fifteen, Scott Redding made a bold pass into turn six, pushing Jonathan Rea to the edge of the corner in a block pass that compressed the leading four and let Chaz Davies, with his quick late pace, close up on Loris Baz to make the leading group a five-bike train. Redding went a little wide at turn six, but Rea couldn't capitalise on it, his front tyre starting to go off a little.
On lap seventeen, Chaz Davies tried to pass Loris Baz, but Baz just parked his Yamaha across Davies's front, forcing Davies to let Baz escape. A lap later, Davies tried the pass from further back and managed to make his turn one pass work. The leading five bikes were around two seconds clear of Michael Ruben Rinaldi in a safe sixth place with Alvaro Bautista in a lonely seventh a couple of seconds further back.
As Chaz Davies fruitlessly tried to pass Toprak Razgatlioglu, trying turn one and six then going wide a few turns later, Scott Redding had built up a lead of almost a second and kept the pace throughout the last lap. Jonathan Rea couldn't close up the gap but was safe in second place.
Scott Redding won his first World Superbike race and took command of the championship, six points ahead of Alex Lowes and twelve points clear of Jonathan Rea whose second place pushed him past Toprak Razgatlioglu in the championship. Razgatlioglu's third place cements him as a prospect this year while Chaz Davies demonstrates that his late race form is still better than his qualifying would make you believe.
With two more races in this heat, everyone heads to tomorrow with more data and scores to settle.
|1||45||S. REDDING||Ducati Panigale V4 R|
|2||1||J. REA||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||1.147|
|3||54||T. RAZGATLIOGLU||Yamaha YZF R1||2.252|
|4||7||C. DAVIES||Ducati Panigale V4 R||0.447|
|5||76||L. BAZ||Yamaha YZF R1||3.301|
|6||21||M. RINALDI||Ducati Panigale V4 R||6.367|
|7||19||A. BAUTISTA||Honda CBR1000RR-R||10.228|
|8||33||M. MELANDRI||Ducati Panigale V4 R||18.713|
|9||22||A. LOWES||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||20.421|
|10||91||L. HASLAM||Honda CBR1000RR-R||24.361|
|11||31||G. GERLOFF||Yamaha YZF R1||26.610|
|12||23||C. PONSSON||Aprilia RSV4 1000||34.651|
|13||12||X. FORES||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||34.709|
|14||11||S. CORTESE||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||38.138|
|15||50||E. LAVERTY||BMW S1000 RR||38.365|
|16||20||S. BARRIER||Ducati Panigale V4 R||49.601|
|17||63||L. GABELLINI||Honda CBR1000RR-R||52.357|
|18||13||T. TAKAHASHI||Honda CBR1000RR-R||53.802|
|NC||66||T. SYKES||BMW S1000 RR||6 Laps|
|RET||77||M. SCHEIB||Kawasaki ZX-10RR|
|RET||36||L. MERCADO||Ducati Panigale V4 R|
|RET||60||M. VAN DER MARK||Yamaha YZF R1|
|RET||64||F. CARICASULO||Yamaha YZF R1|