Jonathan Rea has produced the clean sweep at Imola to dominate the opening race to extend his World Superbike championship lead as he heads up a second consecutive Kawasaki 1-2 result.
The defending World Superbike champion enjoyed the perfect getaway from pole position before setting the fastest lap of the race on his second lap to quickly go about building a lead on teammate Tom Sykes.
With a useful time advantage Rea maintained his gap for a trouble-free race victory, his first win at Imola since 2015, to break Chaz Davies’ domination at the Italian circuit over the past two years.
With Sykes a comfortable second it demonstrates the significant gains Kawasaki has achieved since Assen and from the recent two-day Brno test.
Marco Melandri completes the podium for Aruba.it Racing Ducati having avoided the frantic start between the front two which saw Davies shuffled down to 10th place after missing the final chicane.
The Welsh rider was put under investigation but no action was taken by the race stewards, which enabled the factory Ducati rider to claw his way back up the order. With Davies in fourth place he began to reel in teammate Melandri but the Italian rider responded in the closing laps to keep clear.
Davies can take the small comfort of pole position from the reverse grid race two format having lost out at the start which hampered his race plan having appeared to be the closest challenger to Rea in terms of pace during practice.
Barni Ducati’s Xavi Fores claimed fifth place to continue his strong start to the year just ahead of Pata Yamaha’s Michael van der Mark as Aruba.it Racing Ducati junior rider Michael Ruben Rinaldi fading late on to seventh place.
Milwaukee Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori recovered from a poor start to take eighth place ahead of Puccetti Kawasaki wildcard Leon Haslam who held off Pata Yamaha’s Alex Lowes at the line.
Toprak Razgatlioglu was also involved in the race-long battle with Haslam and Lowes to finish 11th for Puccetti Racing as Laverty on the Milwaukee Aprilia faded towards the finish into 12th place.
Loris Baz (Althea BMW), Jordi Torres (MV Agusta) and Leandro Mercado (Orelac Kawasaki) completed the points places while it was another disastrous race for Red Bull Honda with Jake Gagne out of the points in 16th while Jason O’Halloran, stepping in for the injured Leon Camier, crashed out early on.