Rea holds off Haslam in Island SBK epic
Jonathan Rea held off a strong challenge from Leon Haslam to win the opening race of the World Superbike Championship at Phillip Island.
The Northern Irishman led the majority of the contest from pole but by the halfway stage Haslam’s Aprilia hit the front.
However, a mistake at Stoner corner from the Englishman handed Rea the lead back, but Kawasaki’s new recruit was unable to relax.
A resurgent Haslam fought his way back from fourth to challenge Rea on the final lap with the pair swapping positions.
In the end, Rea just hung on to take the chequered flag by a mere 0.039s.
Aruba.it Racing Ducati rider Chaz Davies completed the podium in third having been involved in a titanic battle with Rea and Haslam for the entire race.
Red Devils Aprilia rider Jordi Torres came home in fourth on his world superbike debut, while Pata Honda’s new signing Michael van der Mark was fifth.
Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes endured a relatively lonely race in sixth just ahead of reigning world champion Sylvain Guintoli.
Althea Ducati’s Nicolas Terol finished eighth while Friday pacesetter Alex Lowes (Suzuki) and Leon Camier (MV Agusta) rounded out the top 10.
Former three-time world champion Troy Bayliss finished a credible 13th in his first world superbike outing for six years.
The Australian, riding as a replacement for the injured Davide Giugliano, had climbed inside the top 10 before dropping back to 13th spot at the flag.
The 45-year-old finished five seconds in front of countryman Jed Metcher on the Race Centre Kawasaki in 14th position.
The final World Superbike Championship race of the weekend is due to begin at 2.40pm local time.
Result: World Superbike Championship Race 1
|1||Jonathan Rea||Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R||22 laps|
|2||Leon Haslam||Red Devils Roma Aprilia RSV4||+0.039s|
|3||Chaz Davies||Aruba.it Racing Ducati 1199R||+0.496s|
|4||Jordi Torres||Red Devils Roma Aprilia RSV4||+2.259s|
|5||Michael van der Mark||PATA Honda CBR1000RR||+9.838s|
|6||Tom Sykes||Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R||+13.761s|
|7||Sylvain Guintoli||PATA Honda CBR1000RR||+14.021s|
|8||Nicolas Terol||Althea Ducati 1199R||+15.954s|
|9||Alex Lowes||Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000||+21.106s|
|10||Leon Camier||MV Agusta F4 RR||+24.771s|
|11||Matteo Baiocco||Althea Ducati 1199R||+28.920s|
|12||Tati Mercardo||Barni Ducati 1199R||+35.929s|
|13||Troy Bayliss||Aruba.it Racing Ducati 1199R||+40.315s|
|14||Jed Metcher||Race Center Kawasaki ZX-10R||+45.090s|
|15||Sylvain Barrier||BMW Italia S1000RR||+46.444s|
|16||Roman Ramos||GO Eleven Kawasaki ZX-10R||+53.331s|
|17||Randy De Puniet||Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000||+58.811s|
|18||Larry Pegram||Team Hero EBR 1190RX||+1:06.071s|
|19||Santiago Barragan||Grillini Kawasaki ZX-10R||+1:06.110s|
|20||Imre Toth||Team Toth BMW S1000RR||+1 lap|
|DNF||Niccolo Canepa||Team Hero EBR 1190RX||–|
|DNF||Christophe Ponsson||Grillini Kawasaki ZX-10R||–|