Jonathan Rea kicked off his World Superbike title defence with a photo finish win over Chaz Davies at Phillip Island.
The pole-sitter and reigning World Champion found himself under fire five laps in, dropping right back to fourth behind Marco Melandri, Alex Lowes, and Tom Sykes.
He worked his way back up to second on Lap 11, re-taking the lead from Lowes a lap later – only to drop back to third several laps later.
With three laps to go, Rea made his move, charging past teammate Sykes and into the lead with Davies in hot pursuit. The pair ran nose-to-tail right to the end, crossing the line effectively side-by-side with Rea just 0.04s ahead.
“When I found myself at the front with three to go, I made sure I was quite defensive in the last sector,” said Rea. “I was able to bring it home. To start the season with 25 points is exactly what I needed to do. It was a strange race, we should have been much much faster, but we did what we had to do in the end to bank 25 points.”
Behind Davies, Sykes came home third, just a second behind Rea, while Yamaha rider Lowes – who led the race midway through – came home fourth, which means he'll start tomorrow's second race from pole position.
Leon Camier was fifth on the MV Augusta, having made a decent start and steady progress throughout the race. Xavi Fores was next, the final rider to have been in sight of the lead group.
Jordi Torres was the best-placed BMW in seventh, ahead of Eugene Laverty on the Aprilia and Michael van der Mark on the Yamaha.
Randy Krummenacher rounded out the Top 10, while Nicky Hayden led the way for Honda down in 11th.
Melandri, who led the race in the early stages, didn’t see the finish, retiring midway through with a mechanical issue.
Phillip Island – Race 1
|5||2||Leon Camier||MV Agusta||3.002|
|9||60||Michael van der Mark||Yamaha||12.180|
|14||15||Alex de Angelis||Kawasaki||24.902|
|Ret||33||Marco Melandri||Ducati||7 laps|
|Ret||25||Josh Brookes||Yamaha||16 laps|
|Ret||32||Lorenzo Savadori||Aprilia||17 laps|