WSBK – Rea wins photo finish in Race One at Phillip Island
Johnny Rea claimed the first win of the 2016 WSBK season after a sensational last lap of a drama-filled season opener at Phillip Island.
The reigning World Champion started the race behind team-mate Tom Sykes, in pole position, and Ducati rider Davide Giugliano in second,but both ZX-10Rs got the best get away from the light and pushed each other hard as they entered the Southern Loop on the very first lap. They were joined by Ducati’s Chaz Davies, who managed to make a stunning start from ninth on the grid, Giugliano and Honda rider Michael Van Der Mark.
Sykes lead the group as the race unfolded, with the Ducatis squabbling among themselves, closely followed by Rea and the Flying Dutchman Van Der Mark. However, Sykes started to drop back after surrendering the lead to his team-mate, and was soon embroiled in a close fight with Hayden and the Yamahas of Lowes and Guintoli.
Rea continued to set the pace, leading Davies and a rejuvenated Giulgliano on the Ducatis, with Van Der Mark staying in contention on the Honda. However a mistake by Giuliano saw the Italian drop back, and Davies and Van Der Mark continued push the Ulsterman hard. Rea stayed calm and kept his race rhythm going as those behind him continued to play cat and mouse with each other, and as the laps ticked down, Davies got closer and started to seriously pressure the Kawasaki rider, probing possible passes for a last lap attack.
With the last lap underway, Davies pounced down the hill from Lukey Heights, taking the lead just before the final corner, before Rea took the outside line and blasted around the Ducati through the final turn, the two bikes straightening up on the Gardner Straight with almost nothing between them. In the shootout to the line Rea’s bravery around the outside proved to give him the pace necessary to nudge the nose of the Kawasaki over the line first, separated from the Ducati by just 0.063 seconds.Van Der Mark claimed third, recording his fourth career podium in only his second season, and Giugliano finished fourth in his first race back after a serious injury. Sykes was disappointed to finish fifth after his positive start, but 2014 WSBK Champion Sylvain Guintoli delighted to be the first Yamaha home in sixth, an outstanding result for the YZF R1 in its first WSBK outing. Leon Camier carried through his incredible form from practice to end the race seventh on his MV Agusta, with Jordi Torres on his Althea BMW behind him in eightt ensuring there were six manufacturers classified in the top 10. Series new boy Nicky Hayden struggled to keep the pace in the latter stages of his debut and dropped back to ninth, whereas local hero Josh Brookes made up for a difficult qualifying session to come home 10th.