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  • Jonathan Rea dominates race one at Imola
  • Chaz Davies claims first Ducati podium
  • Tom Sykes completes all British rostrum

Jonathan Rea escaped at the front of the field for a textbook victory in race one of the Imola World Superbike round.

Starting from his first pole position since 2011, the Pata Honda rider held his advantage on the opening lap and then gradually eased into the distance.

Aided by an intense battle behind him, Rea claimed his second victory in a row - after a wet Assen win - by a 4.5s over Chaz Davies, with world champion Tom Sykes in third.

Davies had led the early pursuit of Rea before coming under attack from Sykes and Aprilia's Sylvain Guintoli. The Welshmen kept his cool and was able to repass Guintoli in the closing stages, promptly pulling away to claim his first Ducati podium in the team's home round.

The fading Guintoli then faced a double assault from Kawasaki team-mates Sykes and Loris Baz. Sykes prevailed despite a trip across the grass, while Baz bumped Guintoli from fourth on the very final lap.

Home stars Davide Giugliano and Marco Melandri both had a race to forget. Front row starter Giugliano sunk to seventh in the early laps, but was back in the thick of the six-rider scrap for second place when he fell from his Ducati shortly after the midway point.

That promoted Melandri to sixth but the Aprilia rider soon lost touch with the group, crossing the line a lonely six seconds behind team-mate Guintoli and five seconds clear of Eugene Laverty.

Laverty and Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team-mate Alex Lowes were separated by just 1.5s as the English rookie kept pace with his team-mate, while Toni Elias (Red Devils Aprilia) and a frustrated Leon Haslam (Pata Honda) completed the top ten.

BMW Motorrad Italia SBK stand-in Leon Camier further advertised his talents with eleventh and the top Evo rider, twelve seconds clear of class rival David Salom (after Bimota's Christian Iddon, twelfth on track, was removed from the classification). Fellow Kawasaki Evo riders Scassa, Guarnoni and Andreozzi took the final points.

All of which means Sykes' twelve point title advantage over nearest rival Guintoli has changed to a ten point lead over Rea heading into race two.

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