Eugene Laverty has taken a sublime victory in the opening race of the 2014 World Superbike Championship at Philip Island, coming back from a bad start to move past all his title rivals to the lead.
Sylvain Guintoli was the early race leader, taking off at the front with Aprilia teammate Marco Melandri and Ducati rider Davide Giugliano, while Laverty was left back battling with the Kawasaki pair of Baz and Sykes and fellow Northern Irishman Rea.
However, settling into a pattern of fast laps, Laverty was able to pull in the leading group, passing Melandri, then Guigliano and Guintoli by lap 16 to take the elad before immediately leaving the Aprilia pair to battle for the remaining podium spots.
Melandri emerged victorious on his Aprilia debut, while Guigliano held onto fourth. Loris Baz and Jonathan Rea were fifth and sixth, ahead of reigning world champion Tom Sykes, who let the toher pair past after an uncharacteristic mistake in the closing stages.
Chaz Davies was eighth, taking the fastest lap of the race in the process, ahead of David Salom and Niccolo Canepa, while Brits Alex Lowes and Leon Haslam were early crashers.
Speaking after the race, Laverty said: “It’s an incredible win for all of us. I wanted to get back to winning ways before long, but to win this early on is incredible. I need to thank Paul Denning and the whole team; we had some work to do, and they worked so hard to make this bike a race winner.”
1 58 E. LAVERTY IRL Voltcom Crescent Suzuki Suzuki GSX-R1000
2 33 M. MELANDRI ITA Aprilia Racing Team Aprilia RSV4 Factory 2.959
3 50 S. GUINTOLI FRA Aprilia Racing Team Aprilia RSV4 Factory 3.034
4 34 D. GIUGLIANO ITA Ducati Superbike Team Ducati 1199 Panigale R 6.972
5 76 L. BAZ FRA Kawasaki Racing Team Kawasaki ZX-10R 11.132
6 65 J. REA GBR PATA Honda World Superbike Honda CBR1000RR 11.718
7 1 T. SYKES GBR Kawasaki Racing Team Kawasaki ZX-10R 15.612
8 7 C. DAVIES GBR Ducati Superbike Team Ducati 1199 Panigale R 25.724
9 44 D. SALOM ESP Kawasaki Racing Team Kawasaki ZX-10R 37.407
10 59 N. CANEPA ITA Althea Racing Ducati 1199 Panigale R 37.468
11 14 G. ALLERTON AUS BMW Motorrad Italia SBK BMW S1000 RR 39.271
12 9 F. FORET FRA MAHI Racing Team India Kawasaki ZX-10R 45.212
13 71 C. CORTI ITA MV Agusta RC-Yakhnich M. MV Agusta F4 RR 50.249
14 11 J. GUARNONI FRA MRS Kawasaki Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'17.134
15 32 S. MORAIS RSA IRON BRAIN Kawasaki SBK Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'23.686
16 10 I. TOTH HUN BMW Team Toth BMW S1000 RR 1'30.651
17 20 A. YATES USA Team Hero EBR EBR 1190 RX 1 Lap