In the Aussie sunshine the top World Superbike riders proved that things may not be taken for granted in 2017 after all, as at one time 14 leading riders contested the win in the first 22-lap race of the new season. The 2016 clear top three finally came out on top at the flag, with Tom Sykes (Kawasaki racing Team) joining Rea and Davies, in third place on a hotly contested podium.
Rea tried to break away at half race distance, by which time the lead had changed multiple times, but he was dragged back by his team-mate Sykes and a couple more following riders.
Sykes got a jump on them all on lap 18 of 22 when Lowes and Davies made a hard pass on the inside of Rea into turn four, leaving Sykes clean air for a time.
Rea and Davies collected their thoughts and pace and caught up to Sykes by lap 19, and one lap later both made their move on the 2013 champion.
Rea and Davies contested the win right to the flag, with Rea victorious by only 0.042 seconds. Sykes and Lowes were close behind, Sykes third and only 1.050 seconds back from his team-mate. Lowes was the outsider star of the show, leading at one stage and being aggressive out front, but bringing it home in the best position possible against the existing big powers of WorldSBK racing.
In fifth place Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) made a great start to his 2017 season, just three seconds from the win, while Ducati privateer Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Ducati) was sixth.
Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) placed seventh, Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) eighth, Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) ninth and WorldSBK rookie Randy Krummenacher (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) tenth.
On the new Honda Nicky Hayden (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) was 11th and Stefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) 15th.
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) looked like a race winner at one stage, but after being passed again he crashed at turn two. He restarted but finally retire. Josh Brookes (ERMotorsports Yamaha) was also forced to retire.