Jonathan Rea won another last lap shootout with Chaz Davies to complete a double victory in the opening round of the World Superbike Championship at Phillip Island. The reigning champion held on in the sprint to the finish line by 0.025s to strike the first blow in what looks set to be a season long title battle between the two.
Much of the pre-race intrigue was created by the new reverse grid rules with Alex Lowes lining up on pole position after finishing fourth in race one. The Yamaha rider was overtaken early on by Xavi Fores but neither could make a break before Rea and Davies had got up to speed, the title favourites bringing Marco Melandri through the field with them to form a leading group of five.
By lap six, Rea had made light of his third row start by taking the lead but the trio of Ducatis were piling on the pressure. Davies hit the front on lap seven but the no.33 of Melandri took over at two-thirds distance, threatening a winning return to WorldSBK after crashing out of race one. Tyre wear soon became a factor though and as the Italian lost grip, Rea and Davies powered past to set up a grandstand finish.
Davies edged ahead for the second time on the penultimate lap and with Rea forced to fend off the hard-charging Lowes at Honda hairpin, Chaz’s chances of victory looked to be growing. The Kawasaki rider regrouped though and after keeping the Yamaha at bay, Jonathan turned his attentions to Davies. The no.1 machine breezed past on the approach to turn one on the last lap and despite Davies’ attempts to slipstream past on the run to the flag, Rea held on for his second straight Phillip Island double.
Melandri got the better of Lowes on the last lap to claim third with Xavi Fores losing touch with the leading group late on, leaving him to settle for fifth. Tom Sykes, who failed to make the same early progress as his teammate, never quite got in touch with the frontrunners and trailed home in sixth while Michael van der Mark beat front-row starter Leon Camier to seventh.
The Milwaukee Aprilias completed the top ten with Lorenzo Savadori seeing off team-mate Eugene Laverty despite starting six spots behind the Irishman.
WorldSBK 2017: Yamaha Finance Australian Round – Race Two Result
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