Rea pips Davies in Phillip Island thriller

Jonathan Rea has got his World Superbike title defence off to the perfect start with victory

Jonathan Rea

Jonathan Rea has got his World Superbike title defence off to the perfect start with victory at the season opener after fending off a Chaz Davies at the chequered flag. 

The double World Superbike champion was part of the top seven melee which gave a frantic start to the first race of the year with Rea, Davies, Tom Sykes, Marco Melandri and Alex Lowes all enjoying stints in the lead. Melandri's race ended in frustration on lap 15 after running wide and slipping off his Racing Ducati. 

It took until the final five laps for tyre wear and performance to stretch the field and as Rea looked to steady his lead Davies produced a last-lap charge. 

The Racing Ducati rider attempted a pass for the lead at the start of the final lap but couldn't make the move stick. Rea kept the Welsh rider in check until the sprint to the finish line and narrowly held on for the opening victory. 

Sykes, who only dropped out of victory contention over the final two laps, completed a familiar rostrum trio in third place just over a second off team-mate Rea. 

Lowes put a Pata Yamaha in the mix throughout the race and only missed out on first podium since 2015 by 0.032s against Sykes, with Leon Camier grabbing fifth place to recover from a nightmare Friday practice.

Xavi Fores claimed sixth in the front running pack with Jordi Torres, Eugene Laverty Michael van der Mark and Randy Krummenacher completing the top ten.

Full race one results from the opening round of the 2017 World Superbike Championship at Phillip Island, Australia. 

1. Jonathan Rea GBR Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R 22 laps 
2. Chaz Davies GBR Racing Ducati 1199R +0.042s 
3. Tom Sykes GBR Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R +1.050s 
4. Alex Lowes GBR PATA Crescent Yamaha R1 +1.082s 
5. Leon Camier GBR MV Agusta RC F4 RR +3.002s 

6. Xavi Fores ESP Barni Ducati 1199R +3.320s 
7. Jordi Torres ESP Althea BMW S1000RR +8.725s 
8. Eugene Laverty IRE Milwaukee Aprilia RSV4 +12.135s 
9. Michael van der Mark NED PATA Yamaha YZF-R1 +12.180s 
10. Randy Krummenacher SWI Puccetti Kawasaki ZX-10R +12.439s 
11. Nicky Hayden USA Red Bull Honda CBR1000RR SP2 +19.344s 
12. Markus Reiterberger GER Althea BMW S1000RR +21.336s 
13. Roman Ramos ESP Team Go Eleven Kawasaki ZX-10R +24.866s 
14. Alex de Angelis SMR Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R +24.902s 
15. Stefan Bradl GER Red Bull Honda CBR1000RR SP2 +28.936s 
16. Riccardo Russo ITA Guandalini Yamaha YZF-R1 +39.404s 
17. Ayrton Badovini ITA Grillini Kawasaki ZX-10R +42.941s 
18. Ondrej Jezek CZE Grillini Kawasaki ZX-10R +48.043s 

Did not finish 

Marco Melandri ITA Racing Ducati 1199R
Josh Brookes AUS ER Motorsports Yamaha YZF-R1
Lorenzo Savadori ITA Milwaukee Aprilia RSV4 

Ruled out by injury 

Leandro Mercado ITA IodaRacing Aprilia RSV4