Jonathan Rea has clinched a comfortable lights-to-flag race win in the opener at Portimao as Chaz Davies finished a distant second place ahead of Racing Ducati team-mate Marco Melandri.

Rea produced the perfect race having demonstrated superior pace during the free practice sessions and got away cleanly from pole position to build an early lead. With Kawasaki Racing Team team-mate Tom Sykes out injured after suffering a dislocated fractured little finger in a nasty FP3 crash and Davies starting from ninth after a crash in qualifying, Rea was never troubled as he pulled out a seven-second lead before easing off for a dominant victory.

Davies recovered well from ninth on the grid to climb to second place by the fifth lap but by then Rea had already escaped up the road which forced the factory Ducati rider to settle for the runner-up spot.

Melandri followed his Ducati team-mate through the field but came under late pressure from MV Agusta’s Leon Camier who narrowly missed out on a first podium of 2017 by 0.342s at the chequered flag.

Michael van der Mark kept out of trouble on the Pata Yamaha for fifth place, while team-mate Alex Lowes tipped off on lap eight to finish a lap down, with Althea BMW’s Jordi Torres profiting for sixth place.

Both Milwaukee Aprilia riders suffered badly with tyre wear in the second half of the race to see Eugene Laverty finish seventh and Lorenzo Savadori in eighth despite both riders started from the front row in Portugal.

Xavi Fores claimed ninth on the Barni Ducati ahead of Roman Ramos (Team Go Eleven Kawasaki) and Raffaele De Rosa (Althea BMW).

A customer Kawasaki chain followed De Rosa over the finish line of Ayrton Badovini, Anthony West and Riccardo Russo as Red Bull Honda stand-in rider Takumi Takahashi grabbed a maiden World Superbike point in 15th after his team-mate Stefan Bradl crashed out early on.


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