Triple World Champion takes victory by just under five seconds from Davies, with Melandri completing the podium
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) produced a masterclass in the Qatari desert on Friday night at the Losail International Circuit, getting away brilliantly from pole to dominate the penultimate race of season and eventually cross the finish line a clear 4.944s distance ahead of second placed Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati). The Race 1 podium at the Acerbis Qatar Round was completed by Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati).
Having set a new outright circuit record lap in Tissot Superpole 2 earlier in the evening, Rea pushed his Kawasaki ZX-10RR to the limits over the course of the 17-lap contest around the 5.380km Qatari track. He was untouchable at the front as he cruised away for his 15th win of a remarkable season.
Davies did his best to chase Rea down but would eventually finish a lonely second despite his best efforts – still a good result in his bid to secure the runner-up spot in the 2017 championship. His teammate Melandri crossed the finish line a further five seconds behind him.
Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) produced an excellent ride to fourth, missing out on the podium by under two seconds, whilst his colleague Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) was just behind him - completing the top five.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team), Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team), Sylvain Guintoli (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Roman Ramos (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) rounded out the top ten.
In a drama-filled race there was cruel luck for Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) who pulled off track with a technical issue when challenging for a strong podium finish with seven laps to go. Shortly afterwards Raffaele de Rosa (Althea BMW Racing Team) went down at turn 9 when riding in the top ten and then Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) crashed at the last corner of the lap when also in podium contention. Lowes picked up the Yamaha YZF R1 to go in search of valuable championship points but would crash again in the final stages.
Earlier in the race Michael van der Mark crashed at speed at turn 9 meaning it was a difficult day all round for the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team.
Race 2 at the Acerbis Qatar Round will take place at 9pm local time (GMT +3) on Saturday under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit.