A double winner last time at Imola, Chaz Davies was forced to settle for third place in the opening Sepang World Superbike race.

The Aruba Ducati star shadowed title leader Jonathan Rea for much of the race, but dropped back in the closing stages. The Welshman crossed the finish line 2.4s from Rea and 8.0s from dominant winner Tom Sykes, both riding for Kawasaki.

"The early laps were okay, it felt like I was managing the tyre and waiting for the race to play out behind Johnny," Davies said. "But I started losing mid-corner grip and struggling from maximum lean angle to the first pick-up of the gas, getting it to hook around. So it's just one of those things.

"Compared with yesterday, we definitely made some progress, but we're still at 95% of our potential. I was expecting Sykes to slow down eventually, but he didn't. I was hoping to at least be able to make a move on Rea, but honestly we couldn't have done more today.

"Now we'll sit down with the team to come up with a plan to improve tomorrow."

Were any surprises with the new asphalt over a race distance?

"No, not really," Davies replied. "It worked better than anybody expected. I don't think the front tyre was too bad, the rubber down on the track helped as well. The asphalt is really grippy, it just needs more time to bed in."

Davies is now 39 points behind Rea in the standings, and 23 clear of Sykes.

By Peter McLaren

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