Misano, Italy – Defending champion Jonathan Rea posted his third World Superbike double win of the season at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, despite the best efforts of the Ducati Team riders on their home turf and his Kawasaki Factory team-mate Tom Sykes, who set a new record in qualifying with his seventh consecutive Superpole win at this circuit.
Of the South African contingent, Sheridan Morais endured the worst weekend; his Yamaha picked up a gremlin on the warm-up lap and he had to start the World Supersport race from the back of the grid. By lap 11 he'd made up 10 places, when the bike went sick again and he retired on lap 13.
Sam Lochoff, Dino Iozzo and Jared Schultz were among the 15 World Supersport 300 riders penalised for going out too early in qualifying, all of whom had to start from the back of the grid - but Dorren Lourreiro qualified third and ride a brilliant race to finish ninth, just 1.622 seconds behind the winner, while Lochoff, Iozzo and Schultz finished 18th 20th and 28th respectively.
A fantastic start for Rea shot him ahead of Sykes at the lights and, with an open track ahead, Rea proved to be unbeatable once again. He was the only rider to crack 1m35s at the start of the race, opening a comfortable gap from the chasing pack.
But there was plenty of movement behind him in the opening laps, with Aprilia star Eugene Laverty and Ducati Team leader Davies, who had blasted up the field at the lights from seventh on the grid, making quick work of Sykes, while Michael van der Mark on the first of the factory Yamahas also put his name in contention for a rostrum spot with a stunning start from 11th.
With Rea flying away into the distance, Davies finally managed to catch the Aprilia by lap 16. Laverty went very wide going into Turn 16, a mistake that Davies welcomed, going through onto the straight. It was Davies’ third consecutive second-place finish and yet another solid ride by the Welshman.
While his team-mate Lorenzo Savadori’s Aprilia RSV4 RF suffered from performance issues in the final third of the race, there were no such problems for Laverty, who took his second consecutive podium - after four years without a top three finish.
Van der Mark completed an excellent ride with fourth, almost two seconds ahead of Sykes and less than five seconds behind Rea despite his row four start, making it four manufacturers in the four top spots.
Ducati privateer Xavi Fores, in special ‘tricolore’ livery for the Misano race, was the top independent rider in sixth, ahead of the home duo of Marco Melandri (Ducati Team) and Savadori, while works Honda rider Leon Camier returned to the top 10 after a disappointing weekend at Laguna Seca in ninth and Argentinian Kawasaki privateer Leandro Mercado posted only his fourth top 10 finish of the season.
Alex Lowes on the second factory Yamaha, up to this point the only rider to score points in every race of 2018, crashed twice and was unable to finish. Misano doesn’t like Lowes - it was the fourth time he’d crashed out here.
Rea took his second win of the weekend after a scorcher of a race; if Race 1 was a relatively comfortable affair for the defending champion, he had to dig deep for this one, making several stunning passes on his way to beating Van der Mark with three laps to go.
The opening laps were nothing short of all-out war, as Fores made a blistering run at the lights, flying into the lead, but a technical issue ended his race just two laps later. Meanwhile, Rea jumped straight up to fifth, but was then blown away by Davies on lap two. With Van der Mark making the most of the open track ahead, Rea got into it with the Ducati Team bikes. First he pulled an ambitious move to pass Davies in Turn 5, then he and Melandri both passed Sykes, before trading places several times on laps seven and eight.
Rea finally got clear and began hunting down the race leader, now more than a second ahead with and twelve laps. He caught van der Mark with five laps to go - and so did Melandri, hanging on to the Kawasaki rider’s pace. With the Ducati suddenly breathing down both their necks and less than half a second separating them as they went into the closing laps, Rea made his move with three laps to go.
He showed a wheel into Turn 1, pulled a stunning pass down the inside into Turn 2 and made it stick on the exit from the Variante del Parco to take his hardest-fought win of the season so far.
Van der Mark had just enough left in the tank to defend his position from Melandri, taking second and delivering a fourth consecutive weekend with a Yamaha bike on the podium. Melandri couldn’t repeat his phenomenal win from 2017’s Race 2 at Misano, but a return to the rostrum in third left the Ducati rider and the home fans ecstatic after a few difficult races.
Davies finally came home fourth, not quite able to consistently match the front pace, in a disappointing result after a promising start, but ahead of Sykes in fifth.
After a disastrous Race 1 Lowes bounced back to finish sixth despite having to start from the back of row four, fending off a late charge from Savadori, who managed to beat factory Aprilia team-mate Laverty this time round, while BMW works rider Loris Baz came back from his early crash in Race 1 to post ninth ahead of Camier.
Yamaha factory rider Federico Caricasulo took his first win of the season in brilliant fashion, ending a 12 year run without an Italian winner in the 600cc class at Misano, while Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta) made it a home double in second and championship leader Sandro Cortese, also on a Yamaha, completed the podium.
Jules Cluzel (Yamaha) shot out like a cannonball at the lights, moving ahead of pole-sitter Caricasulo before the entry to Turn 1. Cluzel's stunning start came with an added bonus, as championship rivals Randy Krummenacher (Yamaha) and Cortese tumbled down to sixth and eighth respectively, while Lucas Mahias on the second factory Yamaha crashed out one lap later.
Any jubilation for Cluzel was short-lived, however, as in a matter of seconds in lap four he was pushed back to third in consecutive corners by Caricasulo and the rising De Rosa - and his woes were compounded two laps later, as Cortese, now the fastest man on the circuit, found his way smoothly past.
The top three would remain unchanged from that point forward, despite the gap between first and third never increasing to more than a couple of seconds. Caricasulo didn’t wilt under the pressure, keeping the MV Agusta of De Rosa at bay and confirming a superb return to the top spot of the rostrum.
Despite not finding the pace to match Caricasulo in the second half of the race, De Rosa posted his best-ever result in World Supersport and a fifth consecutive podium; amidst a sea of Yamahas, his efforts aboard the MV Agusta cannot be overstated.
With his third place, Cortese increased his championship lead to five points over Cluzel, who finally crossed the line fourth after riding alone most of the latter stages of the race. Krummenacher made it to the flag in fifth, thirteen seconds off the race winner, with Anthony West (Kawasaki), a former Misano race-winner, scoring his joint-best performance of the season in sixth, ahead of Kyle Smith (Honda) in seventh and again in the top 10 after changing team before Brno.
Eighth went to wildcard Lorenzo Gabellini (Yamaha), his first points finish in World Supersport after also racing at Imola. Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki) made a phenomenal start to his race, moving up to fifth inside the first lap, but by the end he could only make it to the flag in ninth, while Ayrton Badovini (MV Agusta) was the fourth and final home rider inside the top 10.
WORLD SUPERSPORT 300
Manuel Bastianelli (Kawasaki) posted a stunning first win, fighting his way to the front near the end and just defending the top spot from a last-lap blitz by Mika Pérez (Kawasaki) with just 0.036s separating the pair, and Manuel González (Yamaha) taking his first podium finish in third.
After three races dominated from lights to flag by the respective pole sitters, the WorldSSP300 championship returned to a trademark last lap scrap at Misano, with the top fifteen riders separated by just three seconds. Several riders pushed amidst the chaos but it was ultimately the wildcard who prevailed, to the enjoyment of the Misano crowd.
Bastianelli rode full-time in WorldSSP300 in 2017, taking just four points across nine races, but here at the Riviera di Rimini Round the Italian turned up spectacularly for his home fans.
Mika Pérez had not taken a podium since the opening round of the season, but he overcame the huge group of riders in the mix as well as a six-place grid penalty to rise to the rostrum in second. Pérez chose to attack in the final lap, gaining several places and coming just metres away from making it to the top.
Fifteen-year-old González joined the two Kawasaki riders on the podium with his best WorldSSP300 result, beating Luca Bernardi (Yamaha) to the line for third. Luca Grunwald (KTM) did more than damage limitation in his climb from eighteenth on the grid, making it to the flag in fifth after even managing to lead the race at one point.
His spectacular fightback moved him up to second in the championship, 16 points behind Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki), who was 10th at Misano - but her lead remained nearly intact after her nearest rivals, Kawasaki riders Borja Sánchez and Scott Deroue, both retired from the race.
Maria Herrera (Yamaha) managed her best WorldSSP300 result with sixth place, ahead of pole-sitter Galang Hendra Pratama (Yamaha) who dropped back after a phenomenal start.