Carlos Checa produced a supreme performance to take a largely unchallenged win in race one at Miller Motorsports Park.
The championship leader dropped to fourth at the start behind Troy Corser, Noriyuki Haga and Sylvain Guintoli but picked them off with the minimum of fuss to take the lead by lap five.
Once the Spaniard had clear air in front of him he disappeared into the distance to win by 2.766s, but there was plenty of action behind him.
Max Biaggi had led into turn one and was expected to be Checa's main threat after his double win last year. But the Italian failed to complete the opening lap after first losing the lead to Corser, and then crashing out of the race, taking Jonathan Rea with him.
Once he had been deprived of the lead, Corser had to turn his attention to a four-rider queue that had formed behind him with Leon Camier and Eugene Laverty having caught Haga and Guintoli.
On lap eight, the Australian hit problems as the BMW S1000 RR began to plummet down the order with Haga, Guintoli, Camier and Laverty all moving past.
The Japanese rider didn't hang on to second for very long himself though as Guintoli and Laverty demoted him to fourth. Camier should also have been in the action but he had troubles of his own and had fallen to sixth.
The main beneficiary of his problem was Czech rider Jakub Smrz who was recovering from a poor start. The Effenbert–Liberty man dived past the fading Haga at turn four on the 12th lap and began to close on his teammate who was now pressing Laverty for second.
The Ducatis seemed to be coming on strong as the race elapsed and Guintoli took second on lap 13, while Smrz did likewise little over a lap later. The teammates now had the track all to themselves as they disputed second place, but Smrz would eventually prevail after passing the Frenchman three laps from home.
In contrast to Ducati, Yamaha were having a poor race with both of their riders losing ground. Laverty was unable to hold off the recovering Camier who stormed through to fourth while Laverty finished over 15 seconds off the lead in fifth. Marco Melandri had even greater problems as he trailed home in tenth.
Tom Sykes provided the most competitive showing from the Kawasaki ZX-10R so far this year with a strong ride to sixth, outracing a pair of BMWs in the process. Ayrton Badovini got the better of Leon Haslam in the battle for seventh as the BMW Motorrad Italia team got one over on the factory squad.
Noriyuki Haga's lightning start to the race eventually came to nothing as he dropped back to ninth ahead of Melandri. James Toseland is still riding short of 100% but an accident between Ruben Xaus and Michel Fabrizio helped him into the points.
Race One Result: 21 Laps
|1||Carlos Checa||Althea Racing||WINNER||25|
|2||Jakub Smrz||Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing||+2.766||20|
|3||Sylvain Guintoli||Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing||+4.093||16|
|4||Leon Camier||Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team||+8.885||13|
|5||Eugene Laverty||Yamaha World Superbike Team||+15.718||11|
|6||Tom Sykes||Kawasaki Racing Team||+20.477||10|
|7||Ayrton Badovini||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team||+22.170||9|
|8||Leon Haslam||BMW Motorrad Motorsport||+22.267||8|
|9||Noriyuki Haga||PATA Racing Team Aprilia||+24.087||7|
|10||Marco Melandri||Yamaha World Superbike Team||+27.150||6|
|11||Maxime Berger||Supersonic Racing Team||+29.422||5|
|12||Josh Waters||Yoshimura Suzuki Racing Team||+33.428||4|
|13||Troy Corser||BMW Motorrad Motorsport||+36.573||3|
|14||Joan Lascorz||Kawasaki Racing Team||+1:05.369||2|
|15||James Toseland||BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team||+1:14.382||1|
|16||Mark Aitchison||Team Pedercini||+1:14.736|
|17||Roberto Rolfo||Team Pedercini||+2 Laps|
|Michel Fabrizio||Team Suzuki Alstare||+18 Laps|
|Ruben Xaus||Castrol Honda||+18 Laps|
|Jonathan Rea||Castrol Honda||+21 Laps|
|Max Biaggi||Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team||+21 Laps|
Carlos Checa (Althea Racing) 1:49.779
Corser (1-5), Checa (6-21)