The first Saturday race of the new year in the latest era of World SBK competition saw a dry track welcome the riders, and up to nine front men provide a remarkable spectacle for the Saturday crowd for most of the 22-lap race distance.
On the final lap a group of four, with Jonathan Rea (KRT) at the head, entered the final section. Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing Ducati) tried to pass inside at the downhill of the MG hairpin, but he ran wide and Rea came around the outside and held off Davies over the line by 0.063 seconds.
In third place Michael van der Mark (Honda WSB) scored the final podium place, but the combative nature of the race saw him only 0.487 seconds from the win.
Such was the pace shown by the front-runner Davide Giugliano (Aruba.it Ducati) that he scored the best lap of the race a 1’32.445 – on the last of 22 laps. He was only 0.647 seconds from the winner.
Early leader Tom Sykes (KRT) was finally fifth, with Pata Yamaha rider Sylvain Guintoli sixth, and just behind Sykes at the very end.
Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was setting front runner laps from halfway on and passed many riders to go seventh, just over ten seconds from the win.
Still-hurting Jordi Torres (Althea BMW) gritted his teeth for eighth but early to group runner Nicky Hayden (Honda WSB) slid back to ninth, swamped nears the end.
Aussie rider Josh Brookes (Milwaukee BMW) scored a top ten in his return to WSBK action from BSB.
Early front runner Lorenzo Savadori (Ioda Racing Aprilia) placed 12th.
The next race will be at 3pm local time on Sunday 28th