Reigning WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea took a step closer to Colin Edwards’ all-time points record at Jerez this afternoon when a mechanical failure by Marco Melandri’s Ducati handed the Castletown resident a three-second lead with four laps left.
Melandri had passed Rea for the lead on lap seven and pulled a gap of 1.5s but the Kawasaki man re-grouped and the pair began to swap lap records. Rea set a 1’40.991 with six left to run but Melandri hit straight back a lap later with a 1’40.938.
Seconds later on the run into turn one, Melandri’s Panigale ceased to function and he rolled into the gravel at the top of the hill. Rea had a huge lead but made an error into turn six. He then cooled his pace to take his first-ever victory at Jerez as Chaz Davies and Tom Sykes fought it out for the podium spots.
Davies took second by less than half a second from Sykes, and closes the points gap to five in the chase for second place. Alex Lowes held off a race-long challenge by Pata Yamaha team-mate Michael van der Mark for fourth and will start tomorrow’s second race from pole.
Former world champion Sylvain Guintoli battled his way to sixth place on his return to the championship with Puccetti Kawasaki but had his hands full for most of the encounter with the Milwaukee Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori.
The Frenchman managed to open a gap in the closing laps while Eugene Laverty recovered from a big moment early in the race to finish in eighth. Xavi Fores and Roman Ramos completed the top ten.
Leon Camier struggled for the entire race and ran off track on the last lap, limping home in 12th behind Tati Mercado.