Donington Park, Leicestershire – Michael van der Mark turned the form book on its ear with an extraordinary Round 6 double, his first wins in World Superbikes, the first ever by a Dutch rider, the first by a non-British rider at Donington since 2012 and the first for Yamaha in seven years.
South African Sheridan Morais finished a hard-fought ninth in the World Supersport race, while teenager Dorren Loureiro finished second to team-mate Ana Carrasco in World Supersport 300, with fellow South Africans Dino Iozzo and Sam Lochoff 20th and 22nd respectively.
The psychological battle between the works Kawasakis, first and second in Superpole, started right from lights out, with Rea in front as the pair squabbled through Sector 1. Sykes struck back three laps later at the Old Hairpin, but went wide at the Melbourne loop. Two laps later, an aggressive Sykes made it back in front - same move, same spot.
The Kawasakis were poised - and had been widely predicted - to dominate the Donington weekend, but Van der Mark immediately threw a spanner in the works. He was the only rider able to keep up with Rea and Sykes, after passing factory Yamaha team-mate Alex Lowes.
But stalking the Green Meanies was not enough for the flying Dutchman - Rea went wide at Melbourne in lap 13, the same as he’d done a few laps earlier, and Van der Mark shot ahead into second.
A couple of laps later, he attacked again, stinking his nose in front Sykes at Melbourne, held a tight line through the apex and blasted away in the lead. But the battle was far from over: Rea picked his team-mate’s pocket around Schwartz with six laps to go and shot off after Van der Mark – but it was too big an ask, as Van der Mark rode a faultless final five laps to take the chequered flag.
Alex Lowes finished fourth, well behind the sensational podium battle but still scoring a fantastic finish at his home race. Lorenzo Savadori finally translated his great qualifying performances into a decent race finish with fifth, just ahead of Milwaukee Aprilia team-mate, Eugene Laverty.
Loriz Baz was seventh on the sole surviving BMW, but it was a sorry day for Ducati, with only Chaz Davies making it into the top 10, in eighth, while Marco Melandri crashed with five laps to go, remounted and came home 22nd out of 23 finishers.
A poor start from pole for Lowes saw him gobbled up in the mix at the first turn, ceding two places to Savadori and Leon Haslam (Kawasaki). The Yamaha rider managed to pick both off in short order, however, Haslam at the Fogarty Esses (before the wildcard crashed at Melbourne), and Savadori on lap two.
Meanwhile, the two works Kawasakis led a surprisingly aggressive battle, while the second factory R1 quietly made it through to the leading group from ninth on the grid.
At one-third distance the race turned into a three-way fight with Lowes holding on despite strong challenges from Rea around Craner and Melbourne, while Van der Mark, much as in Race 1, stalked the leaders and Razgatlioglu and Savadori battled it out for fourth, a few seconds behind the leading group.
Then, with only six laps to go, it all came apart for Lowes; on lap 17 Rea pushed in front from the inside at the Melbourne loop, where so many moves had been made over the weekend, with Van der Mark moving past at Redgate to move to second.
And, just as in Race 1, Van der Mark made his race-winning move at that same Turn 11 and immediately broke clear of the pack, giving his pursuers no option to take away his incredible double.
There was one more surprise left. The bickering at the front had allowed Razgatlioglu top close in and showing impressive late-race pace, he picked off Lowes with ease, before setting his sights on three-times champion Rea, moving up to second with a lap to go.
Behind Rea in third and Lowes in fourth, there was another comeback; Davies fell back to 12th at the start but a neat brought him back up to fifth, ahead of Sykes, who missed out on a podium finish at Donington for the first time since 2011.
Savadori came home seventh, just ahead of Leon Camier on the works Honda, who pipped Jordi Torres (MV Agusta) for eighth at the final corner.
German rider Sandro Cortese (Yamaha) took his second World Supersport race win with a cool, controlled ride in his first visit to Donington Park in nine years. Cortese shot up to second at the start, and after going to the front at one-third distance, defended his lead to the flag in a three-way battle with Jules Cluzel (NRT) and Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta), second and third respectively.
Cluzel shot off into the lead from pole, opening a 0.7s gap to Cortese by the end of the first lap. Defending champion Lucas Mahias on the factory Yamaha fell back to fourth, with De Rosa making the best of the inside line to move up to third.
Kawasaki privateer Hiraki Okubo’s crash, five laps in, divided the race action at the sharp end into two packs of three. Cortese made his one aggressive move of the whole 20 laps in Coppice Corner on lap eight. As Cluzel ran wide, he sliced in like a hot knife through butter, taking the inside line and rubbing shoulders with the Cluzel - and after that, with clear track ahead, there was no catching him.
De Rosa took advantage of the dice ahead of him to close the gap and set up a thrilling second half. With five laps to go, he pushed past for second after a mistake by Cluzel, but with one to go, Cluzel struck back, taking another 20 points and confirming that he’s a hot favourite for the title. De Rosa, meanwhile, scored his third consecutive third-place finish, an astonishing feat for the MV Agusta in a Yamaha-heavy top end.
The two World Supersport leaders up to this point led another stunning three-way battle for fourth; Randy Krummenacher (Yamaha) got the best of it the hard way, passing Mahias first at the Old Hairpin, falling back 10 laps later after a huge, race-threatening wobble, before pushing past Mahias again with a lap to go.
Federico Caricasulo on the second factory Yamaha struggled to keep up with the leading pack; starting from seventh on the grid, he came home sixth, well ahead of Ayrton Badovini (MV Agusta), Thomas Gradinger (Yamaha), Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki) and Andrew Irwin (Honda).
WORLD SUPERSPORT 300
Ana Carrasco extended her lead in the Supersport 300 series with a dominant display at Donington Park, taking a second consecutive Grand Slam - starting from pole, leading every lap, setting the fastest lap of the race, and the win.
Behind her, another frantic last-lap dash saw Kawasaki team-mate Dorren Loureiro post his first World Supersport 300 podium finish.
Carrasco knew that, just as at Imola, her pace with an open track ahead was nearly unbeatable. All she needed was a good start – and she nailed that, shooting ahead while Koen Meuffels (KTM) and Mika Pérez (Kawasaki) battled for second.
As Carrasco disappeared into the distance, a thrilling battle for second continued into the final lap. Scott Deroue (Kawasaki) had managed to open a gap midway through the race, but late mistakes, including a last-lap excursion through the Fogarty Esses, dropped him back to sixth.
With Deroue out of contention, Loureiro edged ahead at the flag, with Borja Sánchez (Kawasaki) scoring a second consecutive podium in third. Enzo De La Vega (GP Project Team) managed his best result of the season in fourth, with Meuffels fifth.
Jan-Ole Jahnig (KTM) made his way to the flag in seventh, with Pérez down to eighth, just 1.53 seconds behind Loureiro.