Tom Sykes cruised to an unchallenged victory in race one at Jerez on Sunday morning but the celebrations belonged to the other side of the Kawasaki garage as Jonathan Rea clinched the 2015 World Superbike Championship. Sykes led every lap to beat Chaz Davies and Michael van der Mark but fourth was enough for Rea to secure his first world title.
At first, the race looked set to become a private scrap between the two factory Kawasakis with Sykes getting the holeshot ahead of Rea but the Ulsterman soon started to struggle. Missing apex after apex, the championship leader was overtaken at the Dry Sac hairpin on lap seven, Davies outbraking him on the Aruba.it Ducati.
With tenth all that was required for the title, Rea would have been forgiven for taking a cautious approach but he continued to defend his position, keeping van der Mark under control for a further four laps before the Dutchman dived through at Dry Sac. Fifth-placed Haslam looked set to inflict further damage but the Aprilia rider was unable to use his superior corner speed to any great advantage, handing Rea some respite.
After a lonely ride at the front, Sykes ultimately cruised to victory by three seconds from Davies, allowing him to gain five points in the race for runner-up spot in this year’s championship. Van der Mark added another podium to an already outstanding rookie campaign while Rea wrapped up one of World Superbikes’ most impressive title runs, claiming the title with five races to spare with fourth spot.
Haslam finished a frustrated fifth ahead of Michele Pirro while Alex Lowes took seventh for Suzuki, seeing off Matteo Baiocco, Leon Camier and Sylvain Guintoli.