Marco Melandri has described the opening Jerez race as his best of the year on his return to the World Superbike championship before a cruel technical issue denied him a fight for victory while leading with four laps to go.

The Aruba.it Racing Ducati rider had pulled out a lead of around one second on Jonathan Rea with four laps remaining but saw him race prematurely halted by a technical issue at turn one, which his team is investigating ahead of Sunday’s race two. Melandri had also secured his first World Superbike pole position since 2011 earlier in the day and looked strong favourite for victory before his Ducati hit trouble.

Melandri says he benefitted from the smoother resurfaced Jerez circuit and a strong set-up to lead and was confident of his “best race of the year” before his stop.

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“Today we probably rode our best race of the year, I felt as strong as ever,” Melandri said. “With a less bumpy track, we didn’t struggle with stability under acceleration and thus we were able to use a setup tailored towards corner speed. I was able to push to the limit without going past it.

“I can’t say whether we would have won or not, because it wasn’t over, but for sure we were ready to have a go at it until the very end. It’s a shame we lost such a great chance, but tomorrow we’ll give our best to take back what we’ve lost today.”

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A technical issue!! Bloody electronics !!