CLICK HERE for WSBK race (1) results from Misano.

After just over 33 minutes of racing, less than a tenth of a second proved decisive as Jonathan Rea fended off a relentless Tom Sykes challenge to claim his first World Superbike race win since April.

Locked together for the race's entirety, a final lap shootout always seemed likely after both men edged away from the chasing Michael van der Mark in the early laps.

Both Rea and pole sitter Sykes traded lap records early on as a high-speed game of cat and mouse quickly developed. With Sykes stalking the championship leader throughout, he did everything to place himself within attacking distance on the final lap, only for Rea to defend successfully in the final sector.

As the Englishman pulled alongside Rea on the run to the line the timing screens revealed the result was in the Northern Irishman's favour. And only just. With the gap clocking in at 0.090s, this was the eighth closest finish in the history of the class.

The result brings an end to Rea's winless streak that had stretched to six races - the longest since he signed for Kawasaki at the end of 2014. He now sits in a commanding position in the championship, 61 points ahead of Sykes.

Kawasaki's domination was a contrast to the initial struggles of the Aruba.it Ducatis. By the second lap both Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano's victory hopes were dashed, with the Welshman having to run off track to avoid a falling Lorenzo Savadori - the victim of some exuberance from front row starter Xavi Fores - at the tight turn one. He rejoined toward the back of the top 20.

Sitting third after lap one, and ahead of a fast starting Michael van der Mark and Ten Kate Honda team-mate Nicky Hayden, the onus was on Giugliano to perform. Yet he too was soon stricken 14 corners later. Unlike Davies however, the Italian had no one to blame but himself as a front end fall all-but-ruined his race.

To greater surprise, Hayden fell from fourth one corner later, leaving Van der Mark in a comfortable third place, a position he wouldn't relent until the flag. But while the position would last, his comfort wouldn't. Aware that every point is crucial in his quest for the World Superbike title, Davies produced a ride of real class to ascend through the order.

By lap ten he was fifth. Four laps later and he had overhauled Jordi Torres to sit one place higher. Some 0.2-0.3s faster than van der Mark in the closing laps, Davies ensured the Dutchman was kept honest. His showing will give him some real confidence going into race two.

Torres was a heartening fifth, with Althea BMW team-mate Markus Reiterberger just over two seconds back in sixth. That place was held by Fores until his Barni Ducati Panigale encountered problems three laps from the flag.

Reiterberger won out in a tight, three-way scrap for the ten points with Niccol? Canepa bringing the Crescent Racing Yamaha R1 home in seventh. Standing in for the injured Sylvain Guintoli, the Italian collected a solid top ten while misfortune rested upon temporary team-mate Alex Lowes' shoulders once again.

The former British Superbike champion had started well, and was sitting in a comfortable fourth until he ran off track on lap ten. The 25-year old eventually came home in 13th. If one team deserved a reversal of fortune, it'd be Paul Denning's Pata-backed outfit.

Leon Camier, another victim of Savadori's fall at the first turn, recovered well to collect eight points for eighth. Roman Ramos was ninth and Anthony West brought his Pedercini Kawasaki home in a respectable tenth.

Giugliano was able to recover 14th place after his early crash.

 

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