Jonathan Rea was crowned 2015 World Superbike champion in the first race at Jerez after finishing fourth behind victorious Kawasaki teammate Tom Sykes.
Starting from second on the grid behind poleman Sykes, Rea needed merely needed to finish 10th or higher to guarantee himself a title that had looked destined to be his since the early part of the season.
Initially, the Ulsterman ran second behind Sykes, who established a cushion of a second over his teammate after just three laps.
But as Rea slipped further back from the lead and towards third-place man Chaz Davies, the only man who could theoretically deny him the championship, it became apparent that the #65 Kawasaki was struggling badly with corner speed.
Davies duly passed at the Dry Sac corner on Lap 7, but by this stage was three seconds adrift of Sykes, who reeled off the remaining laps to secure a fourth WSBK victory of the season.
Ducati man Davies took second, 2.8s behind at the chequered flag, with Honda’s Michael van der Mark making his way past a fast-starting Leon Haslam, who surged from 11th on the grid to fourth in the early stages, and then Rea to seal the final spot on the podium.
Haslam looked like following through immediately, but despite what was at stake Rea was in no mood to give up the position, the duo becoming embroiled in a fierce battle during the second half of the race.
Although Haslam was able to edge his Aprilia past on several occasions, he could never make the move stick, meaning Rea held on for fourth and secured the necessary points to take the title with five races to spare.
Michele Pirro, the replacement for the injured Davide Giugliano aboard the second works Ducati, caught up to the back of the Rea/Haslam duel in the closing laps and took sixth.
Alex Lowes was the best of the Suzuki riders in seventh, ahead of Matteo Baiocco (Ducati), Leon Camier (MV Agusta) and defending champion Sylvain Guintoli (Honda).
Althea Ducati’s Niccolo Canepa squandered his front-row start with a crash at the third lap at Dry Sac, while Jordi Torres ran his Aprilia wide at the very first corner, dropping to 20th and recovering to 12th.
|3||Michael van der Mark||Honda||6.665|
|9||Leon Camier||MV Agusta||18.654|
|16||Randy de Puniet||Suzuki||40.275|
|19||Alex Phillis||Kawasaki||1 Lap|
|20||Imre Toth||BMW||1 Lap|
|21||Christophe Ponsson||Kawasaki||3 Laps|
|22||Gianluca Vizziello||Kawasaki||3 Laps|