Jonathan Rea took advantage of a mistake from his teammate Tom Sykes to snatch victory in an eventful first race at Imola. The race was halted midway through following a heavy crash for David Salom and in a shortened six lap dash saw a single error prove crucial in the battle between the two factory Kawasakis.
There was no shortage of action in the ten laps which took place prior to the stoppage with polesitter Davide Giugliano leading away from pole position while the Kawasakis of Rea and Sykes slotted in behind. Chaz Davies shadowed the leading trio on the second Aruba.it Ducati but any hopes the Welshman had of victory were extinguished when his Panigale stopped on lap seven with technical problems.
Shortly before his exit, the two Kawasakis had swapped places with Sykes slicing past his compatriot at Tamburello and under braking for the first chicane on lap nine, Tom took over leadership of the race as the returning Giugliano began to tire. As it turned out though, that move would merely earn Sykes pole position for the restart following a heavy crash for Salom which brought out the red flags, the Spaniard requiring medical assistance at the side of the track.
When racing resumed, Sykes blasted straight into the lead ahead of Rea and Giugliano but on the approach to Variante Alta on lap three, the Yorkshireman missed a gear and that was all the encouragement Rea needed to grab the lead. The championship leader wouldn’t put a wheel wrong from thereon in and clinched his seventh win from nine starts in 2015. Sykes had to settle for second with a jubilant Giugliano taking the final podium spot ahead of Leon Haslam.
Reigning champion Sylvain Guintoli was a beneficiary of the restart, rising to fifth ahead of Ayrton Badovini, Leandro Mercado and Matteo Baiocco while Michael van der Mark finished ninth on the second PATA Honda, just in front of Althea substitute Michel Fabrizio.