Jonathon Rea takes two wins on opening day of defence of World Superbike title
Ballyclare rider Jonathon Rea started the defence of his World Superbike title in faultless style yesterday.
The Kawasaki double world champion took both race wins in the opening round at the Phillip Island circuit in Australia, stamping his authority as the man they have all to beat.
Rea was in superb form as he won the first of the two races from fellow Brits, Chaz Davis and Tom Sykes.
Toomebridge rider Eugene Laverty, who was making his World Superbike comeback, finished in eighth place, with Laverty struggling to find his footing with the Ducati machinery.
In race two, Rea again took the chequered flag.
In a frantic sprint to the flag, Rea just took the win with just 0.02 seconds to spare over Davis with Italian Marco Melandri third.
This was Rea's 40th World Superbike race win and his 11th double success, and with a performance like he produced, it will be very hard to see anyone getting the better of the county Antrim rider again in 2017.
Afterwards Rea said: "Those where two very strange races. I just wanted to keep out of trouble in those races.
"At times the pace was slow and that made it difficult especially in race one.
"Race two had its problems in that I had to start from ninth place due to the new format and found myself having to battle my way in the front, and again, Chaz was the man who made it hard for me.
"I knew if I got into the lead I could hold onto it, although Chaz was making hard work for me. It's the perfect way to start the defence of my world title."
Rea now heads to Thailand for the second round of the World Championships.
Toomebridge man Laverty finished race two in 10th place.