The first ever World Superbike race held on a Saturday would be twenty two one-and-a-half minute laps of Phillip Island in Australia, the fiftieth race held on this track.
The Kawasakis of Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes took to the front ahead of Chaz Davies, Michael van der Mark and Davide Giugliano. Alex Lowes, Nicky Hayden and Sylvain Guintoli were on the back of them, becoming an eight bike group after dropping Lorenzo Savadori off the back.
Jonathan Rea led for three laps, with eight bikes in his wake swapping places, but at the beginning of the third lap, Tom Sykes passed Rea on the brakes into turn one. Chaz Davies took second place on the fourth lap, but it only took Rea one short lap to get it back.
Rea made an attempt to take the lead into turn one of the sixth lap, but Sykes is one of the strongest riders on the brakes, especially in the early part of a race. Behind the Kawasakis, the Ducatis of Davies and Giugliano were swapping places, with van der Mark's Honda buzzing between them where possible, taking any opportunities that presented themselves.
On lap seven, Nicky Hayden fought to sixth place, still within sight of the lead, behind the swapping Ducatis and his teammate. At the front of the race, Jonathan Rea passed Tom Sykes for the lead as they charged to the line, holding the outside line. Davide Giugliano caught and passed Sykes and Chaz Davies followed him through, pushing Sykes back to fourth place. A lap later, on the ninth lap, van der Mark and Hayden both forced their way past Sykes, with the Yamahas of Sylvain Guintoli and Alex Lowes still holding station at the back of the pack.
Jonathan Rea held off Chaz Davies for three laps, then, once Davide Giugliano passed Davies, Rea held him off for another couple of laps. Twelve laps in and the front eight riders were still all within striking distance of the rider in front of them.
Then, Alex Lowes started to lose touch, crossing the threshold of the seven tenths of a second that makes the difference between no gap and a gap. A lap later, Nicky Hayden lost the tow from van der Mark and the three riders in front of him, and the front group became four.
Jonathan Rea, Davide Giugliano, Michael van der Mark and Chaz Davies at two thirds race distance knew that three of them would likely be on the podium, but Tom Sykes over a second back had a different idea and he despatched Nicky Hayden and worked at closing the gap to van der Mark. As Sykes closed, van der Mark made a bold move, passing both Giugliano and Davies in one corner, but Davies reasserted himself and used his still sticky front tyre to take second place back. Alex Lowes crashed out of eight place.
As Sykes closed on Giugliano, Guintoli, having also dealt with Hayden, closed on Sykes. With three laps to go, Sykes was within striking distance of Giugliano who was having difficulty keeping up with third-placed van der Mark and van der Mark was starting to realise he didn't have enough front tyre left to challenge for the win.
On the last lap, Jonathan Rea and Chaz Davies were unassailable, with Michael van der Mark expending what tyres he had left to fend off Davide Giugliano. Giugliano set the fastest lap of the race trying to capture the last place of the podium.
At the front, however, Davies had plans. Unfortunately, so did Rea and Rea just needed to maintain his line and not make a mistake to keep the lead. If he exited the last corner in front, he would win as his Kawasaki had longer legs than Davies's Ducati, evidenced every lap as they barrelled down the straight.
Davies, having crested Lukey Heights made his move at the tight right-hand hairpin, MG corner. Rea let him have the corner entrance and took a more sweeping line behind Davies and, as Davies had to tighten up his entrance to the left handed turn eleven, Rea swooped around the outside and took the racing line, charging to the last corner.
Rea exited the last corner with Davies in his wake and won the first Saturday race in World Superbike history by six hundredths of a second.
Third place went to Michael van der Mark with Davide Giugliano less than two tenths behind him. Tom Sykes and Sylvain Guintoli crossed under three seconds later.
Jonathan Rea has begin his campaign to retain the title with a victory while Chaz Davies has made it clear he has other ideas.
|1||1||J. REA||Kawasaki ZX-10R||1'31.547||307,7|
|2||7||C. DAVIES||Ducati 1199 Panigale R||0.063||1'31.540||312,1|
|3||60||M. VAN DER MARK||Honda CBR1000RR SP||0.487||1'31.469||315,8|
|4||34||D. GIUGLIANO||Ducati 1199 Panigale R||0.647||1'31.445||307,7|
|5||66||T. SYKES||Kawasaki ZX-10R||3.429||1'31.603||313,0|
|6||50||S. GUINTOLI||Yamaha YZF R1||3.510||1'31.767||310,3|
|7||2||L. CAMIER||MV Agusta 1000 F4||10.721||1'32.052||304,2|
|8||81||J. TORRES||BMW S1000 RR||11.539||1'31.812||313,0|
|9||69||N. HAYDEN||Honda CBR1000RR SP||15.534||1'31.704||313,0|
|10||25||J. BROOKES||BMW S1000 RR||23.239||1'32.237||312,1|
|11||40||R. RAMOS||Kawasaki ZX-10R||23.411||1'32.470||305,9|
|12||32||L. SAVADORI||Aprilia RSV4 RF||24.012||1'31.865||309,5|
|13||17||K. ABRAHAM||BMW S1000 RR||37.281||1'32.792||314,0|
|14||46||M. JONES||Ducati 1199 Panigale R||44.720||1'32.774||302,5|
|15||20||S. BARRIER||Kawasaki ZX-10R||46.357||1'32.991||306,8|
|16||9||D. SCHMITTER||Kawasaki ZX-10R||1'08.238||1'34.432||298,3|
|17||11||S. AL SULAITI||Kawasaki ZX-10R||1'08.299||1'34.179||298,3|
|18||56||P. SEBESTYÉN||Yamaha YZF R1||1'30.771||1'34.770||298,3|
|19||10||I. TÓTH||Yamaha YZF R1||1 Lap||1'37.360||291,9|