Normal service resumed at Round One
Tensions were building and excitement was overflowing as the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship returned following their four month winter break, and following the intriguing off-season testing fans were treated to, there were plenty of unanswered questions. Fast, flowing and fearless, Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit was undeniably the perfect setting to kick off the 2017 season.
Reigning world champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) started on pole position ahead of Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) and returning Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). Italian Melandri made an impressive return to the championship, leading his first race since 2014 in the opening laps before crashing out at Southern Loop. Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) put in a stunning performance to get into the lead on lap 11, before slipping back and fighting with Sykes for the final spot on the podium. Boiling down to a final lap scrap for the lead, Rea held off Davies by 0.042s to take the first win of 2017.
Race Two welcomed the first sight of the new for 2017 reshuffled grid format, meaning we saw Lowes start from pole ahead of Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) rounding out the front row. Fores, Lowes and Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) fought for the lead in the early laps, but it didn’t take long for Rea to come through from ninth on the grid, and the Northern Irishman was in the lead on the sixth lap of 22. A four way battle soon emerged for the lead between Davies, Rea, Lowes and Melandri but it was Rea who crossed the line 0.025s ahead of Davies and Melandri.
Leaving Australia with a 10 point lead over Davies, Rea had made his intentions for 2017 clear from the word go, as the paddock now headed east for the Motul Thai Round.