WSB: Melandri wins season opener with Rea off the podium

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Marco Melandri opened the 2018 World Superbike season with a stunning victory at Phillip Island as tyre concerns made for an interesting start to the year.

It was the Kawasaki of Tom Sykes who took an early lead from team-mate Rea, but Melandri was in touch with the duo throughout before making his move to the front

The former Grand Prix rider managed to pull a second on Sykes to secure just his second win since returning to racing at the start of 2017.

World Champion Jonathan Rea struggled for pace towards the end of the race as his tyre dropped off, falling back behind the Ducatis of Davies and Fores to cross the line a disappointing fifth – marking the first time he’s been off the podium at Phillip Island since he joined Kawasaki in 2015.

Alex Lowes took the best finishing position for Yamaha in sixth, ahead of Red Bull Honda’s Leon Camier and the Milwaukee Aprilia of Eugene Laverty. Michael van der Mark was ninth on the second PATA Yamaha after suffering with what also looked to be tyre difficulties.

Leandro Mercado finished tenth for the new Orelac Racing team.

Given the number of riders experiencing tyre issues during the race, series bosses have stepped in and introduced a mandatory pitstop for Sunday’s second race. 

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Oli Rushby

By Oli Rushby

Former sports reporter covering British Superbikes, World Superbikes and road racing