Full race one results from Phillip Island

Marco Melandri has clinched a shock victory at the 2018 World Superbike championship opener for Aruba.it Racing Ducati after reeling in Tom Sykes with defending champion Jonathan Rea fading late on.

The former 250cc world champion kept clear of a frantic start to the 2018 curtain raiser to slot into third place behind the two factory Kawasaki riders Sykes and Rea, with pole-sitter Sykes storming into an early lead in the opening laps.

But with tyre wear coming into play over the latter stages Melandri reeled in Rea and Sykes, pulling off the race-winning move on Sykes on at turn one on lap 19, and went on to maintain his pace to take a surprise victory.

Melandri, a winner at Phillip Island in his 125cc, 250cc and MotoGP days, records his maiden World Superbike win at the Australia circuit to push his career wins tally to 21 in the series to draw level with fellow countryman Max Biaggi.

Sykes claimed a comfortable second place after a late issue saw teammate Rea’s pace drop dramatically which enabled Aruba.it Racing Ducati’s Chaz Davies to jump on to the podium in third place having got the better of Xavi Fores on the Barni Ducati.

With Rea down in fifth place it marks the first time since the final race of the 2014 World Superbike season he hasn’t led the riders’ championship.

Behind the front-runners, Pata Yamaha’s Alex Lowes claimed sixth place ahead of Leon Camier on his Red Bull Honda debut after pulling off a late move on Milwaukee Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty.

Michael van der Mark was another to suffer a drastic loss of pace in the closing laps to drop down to ninth place at the finish for Pata Yamaha as Leandro Mercado completed the top ten for Orelec Racing Kawasaki.

Loris Baz marked his World Superbike return after three years in MotoGP with 11th place for Althea BMW in front of American Jake Gagne on the Red Bull Honda.

World Superbike debutant Toprak Razgatlioglu came home in 13th place for Puccetti Kawasaki as Roman Ramos (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) and Ondrej Jezek (Guandalini Yamaha) rounded out the points places.

Jordi Torres and Yonny Hernandez both crashed out of the 2018 season opener while Lorenzo Savadori missed the race after suffering a fractured left collarbone in a nasty fall during qualifying.

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