The Kawasaki Racing Team have delivered a masterclass in winning in the opening race of the day at Aragon, with Tom Sykes and Loris Baz delivering a one-two by over eight seconds from third place.
Baz, originally able to run with his teammate was left behind as Sykes set a lap record pace at the front, finally ending up four seconds clear of his teammate, who was a further four seconds clear of Jonathan Rea.
Rea had a controversial battle for third, closing down the Ducati of Davide Guigliano before the pair collided on the last lap, causing the Italian to fall while Rea was able to continue. With no rider to blame, the racing incident will nonetheless cause race stewards to analyse the move for possible blame.
Chaz Davies was fourth, making a decent race out of a disappointing grid position following a qualifying crash, while Eugene Laverty had an impressive ride to fifth, cutting through the field after running wide early in the race and ending up back in 13th.
Championship leader Sylvain Guintoli was sixth, after getting closed down by Laverty in the closing stages, with Tony Elias seventh, the remounted Guigliano eighth, the second Pata Honda of Leon Haslam in ninth and reigning British Superbike champion Alex Lowes in tenth.
Marco Melandri was a disappointing eleventh, just one spot ahead of Leon Camier, making his racing debut on the BMW Italia S1000RR as he fills in for an injured Sylvain Barrier.
Speaking after the podium, Sykes said: “That was a good start, but we’ve still got some more race to go! The race is early in the morning this year, and the tyre choice was crucial, but it looks like we made the right choice. We got a good start, got my head down, and I was able to eke out a gap; the guys kept me honest really on, but I was able to get away. Race two will be a different story, though - different temperatures and different tyres.”