Defending WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea has finished at the top of the standings after the first round of this year’s championship at Phillip Island.
Rea took two wins from two races to claim the first double at the circuit since Carlos Checa in 2011.
Kawasaki teammate Tom Sykes took the lead in Race 2 from pole position, with Ducati’s Davide Giugliano holding second until Rea passed before the first run through the Southern Loop.
After setting the pace in much of the pre-season testing and taking pole position, Sykes was looking for a good result this weekend.
However, just like in Race 1, it didn’t go to plan for the Yorkshireman.
With 12 laps to go, Sykes ran wide into turn 4 and opened a gap for not only his teammate but also for Michael Van Der Mark (Honda CBR1000RR SP) and Chaz Davies (Ducati 1199 Panigale R) to slip though.
Ducati’s Davide Giugliano caused more grief a few laps later, touching the rear wheel of Sykes’ Kawasaki while attempting to pass and forcing both riders wide. That allowed Nicky Hayden (Honda CBR1000RR SP) and Yamaha’s Sylvain Guintoli through.
Sykes eventually finished 6th, just over 3 seconds behind Rea.
Seven riders were in the lead pack as the race entered the final laps, but it came down to a battle between Michael Van Der Mark, Chaz Davies and Jonny Rea for the win.
Each rider took the lead at some stage, but it was Rea and Davies who eventually made the break.
Davies was stronger coming into turn 4, and passed Rea to take the lead. Rea took the lead back into turn 1 and blocked the line preventing any chance of a repass on the way into the Southern Loop.
Davies had one more crack at the lead at turn 4 on the last lap, but lost grip on the front end and crashed into the gravel trap. He eventually finished 10th.
Chaz Davies crash moved Nicky Hayden up to third, and the former MotoGP racer looked like claiming his first podium on his first race weekend in WorldSBK.
Davide Giugliano had a different idea and pulled off a desperate move in the closing stages to bump him back down to 4th.
Rea’s double win puts him 14 points clear of Honda’s Michael Van Der Mark in the championship standings.
A 4th and a 3rd for Giugliano puts the Ducati rider in 3rd place overall.
Chaz Davies, runner up in Race 1 and the rider seen as the greatest threat to Rea in the championship, now sits 4th in the championship on 26 points.
And after a 5th place in Race 1 and 6th in Race 2, Tom Sykes sits 6th in the championship with 21 points.
The next round of the championship is at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand from the 11th to 13th March.