Kawasaki Jonathan Rea is one race win closer to Colin Edwards’ all-time points record after cruising to the Qatar first-race victory at Losail today and passing legend Troy Bayliss in the all-time winners list.
Rea again made it look painfully easy, taking the holeshot from pole and clearing off into the distance as Chaz Davies fought his way from the third row to second place and opening a gap over Tom Sykes in the fight for second place in the championship.
Sykes struggled all race long but benefitted from both Pata Yamaha riders crashing out mid-race. He was sitting in fourth place until there were three laps left when Eugene Laverty and Lorenzo Savadori elbowed their way past and the Huddersfield rider dropped to sixth and 14s behind Rea on the same bike who now has 53 wins to his name, with 15 of those coming this year.
Davies had to contend with Xavi Fores as the Barni Ducati man had equal pace to the works Panigale but he retired with a problem with only seven laps left. Alex Lowes was also in the mix for a podium but a crash at the last corner dropped him to 15th and then another on the penultimate lap saw him walk away from the Pata Yamaha.
Team-mate Michael van der Mark went down with 11 left, running in to turn nine very hot and grabbing some front brake to avoid a relatively-slow Sykes.
Marco Melandri followed Davies through from the third row and pinched the final podium spot. Laverty will start tomorrow’s race from pole after finishing fourth following a race-long battle with Milwaukee Aprilia team-mate Savadori, the pair taking advantage of Sykes’ lack of pace. The former champion was 15s behind his Rea at the flag.
Jordi Torres came through for seventh and Sylvain Guintoli held off Leon Camier for eighth place. Roman Ramos completed the top ten.
JONATHAN REA 531
CHAZ DAVIES 383
TOM SYKES 373
MARCO MELANDRI 317
ALEX LOWES 226
MICHAEL VAN DER MARK 210