Jerez, Spain – Newly crowned triple world champion Jonathan Rea, who had never won at this circuit before, celebrated his unprecedented third consecutive World Superbike Championship with a double win, after both races were red-flagged on the first lap,
South African Sheridan Morais, however, had a rough day, dropping back from a hot start in the World Supersport race and having to work very hard to get back up to sixth.
A Turn 6 crash on the first lap involving Ayrton Badovini (Kawasaki) and BMW factory rider Raffaele de Rosa brought out the red flags. The race was resumed after a short break under quick restart procedure rules, although neither Badovini nor De Rosa made it back onto the grid.
Rea took control of the restarted race from the start and led for several laps before Melandri made a move with up the inside in Turn 9. Davies then followed Melandri through to overtake Rea, but the champion Rea soon responded to retake Davies and slot back in behind Melandri.
As Melandri chased his second race win since his return to World Superbikes in 2017, cruel luck saw him pull off with just four laps to go, leaving Rea to take the glory. Sykes produced a solid ride for third, less than half a second behind Davies in second.
Alex Lowes put in another strong performance on the Factory Yamaha, collecting points for fourth, 3.677s ahead of team-mate Michael van der Mark who was fifth.
2014 world champion Sylvain Guintoli’s return to action on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR saw him finish a creditable sixth, in the first of four races he will ride for privateer Puccetti Racing at the final two rounds of the season.
The top 10 was rounded out by Milwaukee Aprilia duo Lorenzo Savadori and Eugene Laverty, and Spanish duo Xavi Fores (Ducati) and Roman Ramos (Kawasaki).
There were three crashes on the opening lap, with Davies and Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) both went down at Turn 2, but it was Suzuki privateer Dominic Schmitter’s big tumble that brought out the red flags medical staff assisted him at trackside.
Davies’ team worked hard as the riders prepared for a restart 20 minutes after the original race had begun, with the Ducati Panigale R requiring some quick repairs to get him back opn the grid for the second getaway.
A commanding performance in the restarted race gave Rea maximum points, joined on the podium by Ducati Team riders Melandri and Davies.
Rea went from ninth on the grid to first by the end of lap one, overtaking Van der Mark cleanly at the second attempt to remain at the front from early in lap two and never looking back. He crossed the line 2.7s seconds ahead of Melandri, who got the better of team-mate Davies in the final stages of the race.
There were good battles throughout the field behind the front runners with Lowes fourth and Sykes fifth, while Van der Mark was sixth after colliding with Melandri early in the race.
Fores finished seventh after a good battle with Guintoli, while Leandro Mercado (Aprilia) and factory BMW rider Jordi Torres completed the top 10.
Yamaha Factory rider Federico Caricasulo took a brilliant win, just 0.065s in front of Jules Cluzel (Honda), with the podium completed by veteran Anthony West on a Kawasaki.
It was a superb 19 lap contest with Caricasulo and Cluzel contesting the lead in the early laps; their battle would continue to the last corner of the race, with the Caricasulo just holding off Cluzel for a breathtaking win.
The experienced West worked his way up into a front group of five riders and was able to secure third by a clear margin from PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta).
Championship leader Lucas Mahias (Yamaha) produced a controlled and professional ride to fifth, picking up crucial points after two crashes earlier in the weekend.
Sheridan Morais (Yamaha) had a difficult day at the office, taking the holeshot off the line from third on the grid before dropping out of the top 10 in the early running and then making his way back up to sixth.
The top 10 was completed by Niki Tuuli (Yamaha), Rob Hartog (Kawasaki), Gino Rea (Kawasaki) and Christian Gamarino (Honda).
WORLD SUPERSPORT 300
One event rider Galang Hendra Pratama (Yamaha) made history with a debut win in an 11 lap thriller, while Marc Garcia (Kawasaki) finished fourth, which was enough to clinch the inaugural Supersport 300 world championship.
Garcia got a terrible start in one of the most important races of his life but was able to bounce back instantly in the opening laps and move up to a championship winning position.
Title rival Alfonso Coppola (Yamaha) made up nine places in the first six laps to be back in contention for the win and championship title, as a typical World Supersport 300 eight-way battle raged for the lead.
The last three laps were all about the title fight, and contenders started the final lap level on points with Scott Deroue (Kawasaki) in the lead. But the championship was decided on the line as Hendra dived through to win by 0.025s, with Deroue second and Coppola third.
But that wasn’t enough, as Garcia took fourth to win the title by one single point.