Defending champion Rea takes victory at the third attempt in Misano

by Robert Jones

Jonathan Rea produced his best performance of the season in treacherous conditions to take a much needed win ahead of Tom Sykes and Alvaro Bautista

With heavy rain falling shortly after Superpole, and only a few riders testing the wet conditions in the early Free Practice 3 session, the riders where in uncharted territory with huge amounts of spray and visibility being the main issue.

The race was initially red flagged after the riders took to the track for their warm up lap, but with too much standing water on the track particularly in the corners, the start was delayed. 

When the race finally got started, it was Rea who got the best launch off the grid into turn one, with Sykes and Sandro Cortese in second and third. 

Cortese started struggling immediately in the wet, and was passed in quick succession by Bautista, Alex Lowes and Chaz Davies

On lap two, Rea started to open up a gap over the rest, but Lowes was quick to join the Kawasaki rider out front after the Brit produced a mesmerising double overtake through turns one and four on Sykes and Bautista. 

By the end of the lap, Lowes was already on the heels of Rea and made his way into the lead as the pair came across the start finish straight. Lowes started to pull away as the conditions were getting considerably worse, which resulted in another red flag being deployed for the second time at the end of lap five. 

When the race got underway for the third time, the conditions cleared up drastically and the race would finally get to its conclusion. Lowes started the revised race from pole, but the Yamaha rider got a poor start tumbling down to fourth place. As in race one, Lowes managed to regain second place in quick time from Sykes and Bautista.

Image Credit: WorldSBK.com

Unlike the first race start, Lowes decided against challenging Rea for the lead right away, and was instead content with sitting in second. But with twelve laps remaining, Lowes made his move for the lead at turn eight and started to pull away.

Rea was in a comfortable second, and with Bautista struggling in sixth after being overtaken by teammate Davies and Leon Haslam the pole sitter seemed to settle for second. 

However, with nine laps remaining Rea was gifted the lead as Lowes crashed on the fast section at turn eleven. Rea had a gap of over seven seconds back to second place man and rider of the day Sykes, who was unchallenged all race for third, which turned into second. 

Bautista produced a great damage limitation ride to collect a podium, albeit the Spaniard was helped when Haslam crashed and Davies had an issue with his bike, which ultimately dropped him to fifth. 

Fourth was Loris Baz, who delivered a spectacular performance from seventeenth on the gird. The Frenchman was in touch of a podium finish until the last few laps, and will surely be hoping for similar conditions in Sunday’s double header.

Marco Melandri was sixth with another impressive ride on the GRT Yamaha bike, ahead of teammate Cortese. For the German it would have been slightly disappointing to finish behind his teammate after starting second on the grid.  

Yuki Takahashi was eighth for the Moriwaki Althea Honda team, as the wet conditions were a familiar sight for the rider who competes in the Japanese Superbike championship. Lorenzo Zanetti was ninth on the team Goeleven Ducati ahead of Argentine Leandro Mercado.  

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