The first Superpole of the season saw Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) claim top spot with a time of 1:48.267 (an all time lap record), followed by Bautista (aruba.it Ducati), and Rea (Kawasaki KRT) in 2nd, and 3rd respectively.
Conditions for race 1 were dry, if not slightly on the cool side, with track temperatures struggling to reach 28 degrees. As a result most of the riders would opt for the softer SC X tyre.
Lights out and its Bautista who grabs the hole shot, although Toprak was having none of it and barges through, with Rea barrelling past both of them ultimately. The start of this season seems to be carrying off from where we left it last season, in terms of the all out action, white knuckle racing.
Onto lap 3 then, and Razgatlioglu takes over the lead out braking Rea into turn 1 after the straight. Rea strikes back immediately driving under the no.1 bike. The ZX-10RR looking to have received a much needed boost in power over the winter break.
With 16 laps to go, 4 riders had pulled out a gap to the rest of the field. It was; 1st Rea, 2nd Razgatlioglu, 3rd Bautista, and 4th Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati). Iker Lecuona (Honda HRC) was a further 1.2 behind in 5th, a solid ride from the ex-MotoGP rider. Futher back Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad) was all the way down in 19th, a nightmare for the 3rd placed rider in the championship last season. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was also struggling after slipping back to 13th.
With 14 laps to go the group of 4 at the front was now cut to 3, as Rinaldi had slipped back to 1.1 behind Bautista in 3rd. Razgatlioglu had managed to retake the lead, and the leading 3 riders were having a ding-dong battle, with postions changing every lap.
Next lap and both Rea, and Bautista out break Razgatlioglu down the straight into turn 1. The Spaniard was now at the front, with the Ducati looking to have kept all of the top end speed it had last season. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT) was now in 5th, and trying to bridge a gap of 2.3 to Rinaldi in 4th.
With 12 laps to go Rea dives up the inside of Bautista to retake the lead. The stability of the Kawasaki was already showing a massive improvement on where it was last season, and Rea was looking a lot more comfortable then he had last season. Lowes goes down, it wasn’t a high speed crash, but his race is over. The Honda team mates of Lecuona, and Vierge now find themselves in 5th, and 6th respectively, a very decent ride from both the ex-MotoGP, and Moto2 riders.
Next lap and its Bautista who repays the favour, diving up the inside of Rea into turn 1. The Kawasaki had no answer to the shear top end speed of the Ducati, as was the case last season. The world champion was still in 3rd, and keeping in touch with the two at the front. Further back it was now Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) in 5th, followed by the Honda team mates behind in 6th, and 7th. Rea puts in a nice block pass to retake the lead, although Bautista was currently the fastest rider on track with a lap time of 1:50.207.
With 7 laps to go Redding had moved up to 15th, and was at least now in the points. Gerloff too, had also moved up places and was now in 11th. Other notable positions were the Bonovo action BMW team mates of Baz 9th, and Laverty 12th.
With 5 laps to go Rea had edged out a gap of 0.3 to Bautista. Toprak was now losing contact with the two ahead of him, possibly suffering from tyre wear issues. It would surely come down to either Rea, or Bautista for the race win.
With 3 laps to go Rea now had the bit between his teeth, and had extended his gap to Bautista to 0.5. The Spaniard had work to do if he was going to claim the first win of the season. Toprak was now 1.9 behind in 3rd, and out of contention. The Ducati had the advantage in terms of top end speed, but the ZX-10RR had the better turning of the two. This would surely come down to the wire, who had the better grip?
Last lap now and Bautista pulls the trigger, slip streaming Rea down the back straight, then pulling around to out break Rea. Jonny snaps right back, and drives the Kawasaki under the Ducati using the better turning of his bike to full effect, looking so smooth in the process, nice move. Bautista powers out the last corner, but its Rea who edges ahead to claim the first win of the new season. Bautista crosses just behind for 2nd, 3rd Razgatlioglu, 4th Rinaldi, 5th Locatelli, 6th Lecuona, 7th Vierge, 10th Laverty, 15th Redding.
What an action packed start to the new season.
Result top 5:
- Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
- Bautista (aruba.it Ducati)
- Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
- Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati)
- Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)
Championship top 3:
- Rea 25 pts
- Bautista 20
- Razgatlioglu 16