The weather in California was hot and sunny as the riders listened to the American national anthem before the twenty-five lap race. The Ducatis of Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri were coloured in the “Final Edition” Panigale colours.
Tom Sykes led into the first, and more importantly the second, turn ahead of Chaz Davies and Jonathan Rea. Marco Melandri pushed past Eugene Laverty to take fourth place after a couple of turns with Leandro Mercado behind him.
Jonathan Rea passed Chaz Davies and held second place until turn two of the second lap when Davies took a thrusting line into the hairpin, underneath Rea’s exit speed line. Davies set the fastest lap on the second lap, only for Rea to take it off him on the third lap, his 1’23.553 over a tenth of a second quicker.
On the fourth lap, the front three of Tom Sykes, Chaz Davies and Jonathan Rea had built a one second gap from Marco Melandri who once again sat in a lonely fourth place, with Eugene Laverty over a second then two seconds then three seconds further back.
On the seventh lap, the front three increased their lead over Melandri by a few tenths, but further back, Alex Lowes was the first crasher of the race, crashing out at turn five in a high-speed low-side crash. Eugene Laverty was the next crasher a few laps later after losing fifth place to Xavi Fores.
Tom Sykes, Chaz Davies and Jonathan Rea were all running consistent laps around the mid-1’24 mark, until Davies saw Sykes had slightly less pace than he thought he would have at the front and he made his move. As Sykes turned into turn eight, the left-hander at the top of the hill that becomes the long drop down to turn nine, the famous Corkscrew chicane, he saw Chaz Davies was on his line. Davies had crested the hill before turn eight on the left side, the Colin Edwards line of old, and was on the inside into the left.
With Davies on the inside of the left turn, Sykes had to slow down and square off his turn, losing corner speed while Rea could carry his speed unhindered. Davies was on the outside into the second turn of the Corkscrew, but he had the speed over Sykes to lead the race on the exit of the turn. Rea and Sykes were side by side, with the next turn being a left-hander and Rea being on the left, kicking up dust from the apex of turn ten, Sykes conceded second place against his will.
Chaz Davies, having followed the last race from hospital, now led the race at half race distance. Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes were right behind him until lap sixteen when Sykes started to lose a tenth of a second as his grip faded. The front two men carried on with the same punishing 1’24 pace they had since the beginning, the gap between them holding steady at between a quarter and a half a second lap after lap.
As the penultimate lap opened, Davies and Rea had over four seconds of a lead over Tom Sykes and more than twelve seconds over a lonely Marco Melandri. Xavi Fores was battling with Leon Camier five seconds behind Melandri, a battle Fores would win by over a second.
Chaz Davies kept up his pace while Jonathan Rea behind him just couldn’t match him, his tyre starting to go. Davies started the last lap with almost a second gap from Rea, the first time the pair weren’t formation flying the entire lap, and he just kept doing what he did every lap until then. Every lap by Davies was under 1’25 the entire race while Rea only dipped into the 1’25s twice, the lap he clashed with Tom Sykes and the last lap.
Chaz Davies crossed the line on his tricolore coloured Ducati Panigale the winner, with Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes completing the podium. Marco Melandri was fourth and will start tomorrow’s race from pole position.
Chaz Davies remains in third place in the championship, closing too within fifty two points of Tom Sykes in second place. Jonathan Rea increases his lead at the top to fifty four points. Alex Lowes’s second DNF in a row means Marco Melandri increased his fourth place lead over Lowes to thirty five points.
Jack Gagne finished in fifteenth place, earning a championship point in his first outing.