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In his 150th World Superbike start Jonathan Rea secured his third double victory of 2015 to mark the most dominant start to a season in recent memory.

After fending off early pressure from team-mate Tom Sykes, Rea coasted home for his second double victory at Imola in as many years in a race which saw championship challengers Leon Haslam and Chaz Davies falter.

Haslam crashed at turn two on lap nine while Davies' Ducati Panigale expired for the second time while holding a safe third place to give Rea an imperious 83 point lead in the championship.

A race of attrition that saw just 13 riders finish, Jordi Torres took advantage of the misfortune of others to claim his first podium in the class on his very first visit to the challenging 3 mile Italian track.

With Sykes pushing Rea all the way in the shortened first encounter of the day a repeat battle looked as though it was going to play out in front of the sun baked grandstands.

Starting from the outside of the front row, Rea got the jump to brilliantly move past Sykes at turn one as the field scarpered for position the first time around.

Behind were the Aruba.it Racing Ducatis of Davies and Giugliano and the Red Devils Aprilias of Haslam and Torres. Reigning world champion Sylvain Guintoli crashed out at Acque Minerali to compound a trying weekend for the Pata Honda squad.

By lap six Rea had a 0.4s advantage and a cat-and-mouse scrap played out between the Kawasaki teamsters until the twelfth lap, when the Northern Irishman gapped his team-mate by a critical six tenths of a second.

From there he was able to coast home over four seconds clear of Sykes, who posted his first double podium finish of the year.

To underline the dominance of both Kawasaki runners Torres finished 26 seconds in arrears of the race winner after catching and passing the tiring Davide Giugliano at midrace distance.

That move came after Torres had made his way past Haslam whose difficult weekend got worse when he dropped behind the fast-starting Michael van der Mark.

Haslam's eagerness to get back by was all-too apparent however, as he barged the Dutchman into the gravel at Rivazza with a questionable out-braking move. As van der Mark fell Haslam's race lasted a further 30 seconds, the Englishman falling out of contention at turn two.

Although unable to get up right away, Haslam eventually got to his feet, albeit gingerly holding his right wrist.

Behind Giugliano in fourth, Ayrton Badovini headed Matteo Baiocco, who gapped Roman Ramos in the closing stages of the race to come home sixth. Leandro Mercado couldn't repeat his strong showing in the first part of race one and ended the race eighth.

Michel Fabrizio, deputising for the injured Nico Terol, got the better of Alex Lowes for ninth place.

 

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