Rea nabbed the top-step in Race 1 after an incredible final lap battle with Haslam. It was one of the Aprilia rider’s best performances in years, taking second-place just ahead of Davies.
The Kawasaki rider made the most of his pole position, getting a strong start and dipping into Turn 1 at the head of the pack. Haslam and Davies, both also on the front row, trailed in second and third followed by Rea’s teammate, Tom Sykes, Althea Racing’s Nicholas Terol and Pata Honda’s Michael van der Mark. Haslam’s teammate, Jordi Torres, held close to the lead pack in seventh followed by wildcard entry and substitute for the injured Davide Giugliano, Troy Bayliss, in eighth.
The early laps saw Rea hold firm in the lead, but Haslam and Davies were never more than an arm’s reach away from the Kawasaki rider. Sykes had some trouble keeping up and daylight started to appear between him and the front runners by Lap 3, plus the 2013 title winner had a closely bunched pack of competitors hot on his heels.
Newcomers proved to be thoroughly competitive, demonstrated most noticeably when Van der Mark dove to the inside of Sykes entering Turn 1 on Lap 5, pushing the Kawasaki rider wide for fourth place. Sykes was able to stay on the asphalt, but dropped back to 10th position after the move.
Further back, Bayliss was tussling with Torres, Pata Honda’s Sylvain Guintoli and Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Randy de Puniet as he tried to hold on to his top-10 position. The veteran racer held his own for a number of laps, but eventually dropped to 13th by the finish.
Subsequent laps saw Torres battle with Van der Mark, Sykes with Bayliss, Guintoli with Terol as they sorted fourth-place and beyond. The real tension was at the front where Rea, Haslam and Davies continued to wage war for the lead.
Davies and Haslam swapped positions a few times during the initial laps, and then on Lap 9 the Aprilia ace regained the runner-up spot and set his sights on Rea. The next rotations saw Haslam show a wheel whenever he could and on Lap 13 he got the opening he was looking for, getting the lead for the first time. He held there to the line, but Rea was able to draft pass on entry to Turn 1 on Lap 14 to regain the front. Davies took advantage here too and pushed ahead of Haslam as well.
On Lap 15, somehow, miraculously, Haslam avoided what could have been a really nasty fall when he ran wide through a turn and ended up in the grass. He wasn’t completely upright when he drove into the grass, but managed to keep the bike on two wheels, rolling across the turf until he could rejoin the race, only falling to fourth in the process.
Torres took over third-place for a period as Haslam worked to regroup, but then on Lap 18 Haslam caught and passed his teammate for podium position. On Lap 19, the Aprilia rider had caught back up to Davies and Rea and on the following rotation made a pass on Davies for second. The Ducati ace answered back a few turns later, followed by Haslam pushing ahead again when entering the penultimate lap.
He closed up to Rea and then moved for the lead entering the final lap. Rea returned the favor in Turn 2, and then at Turn 4 Haslam again passed for the lead. Just before the final corner, Rea made the decisive move and held the front down the straight. Haslam tried to draft past but came up just short.
Torres crossed the line in fourth, followed by Van der Mark in fifth and Sykes in sixth. Guintoli took seventh while Terol finished in eighth. Voltcom Suzuki’s Alex Lowes took ninth while MV Agusta’s Leon Camier rounded out the top-10.
World Superbike Phillip Island Race 1 Results 2015
1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki)
2. Leon Haslam (Aprilia)
3. Chaz Davies (Ducati)
4. Jordi Torres (Aprilia)
5. Michael van der Mark (Honda)
6. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
7. Sylvain Guintoli (Honda)
8. Nicholas Terol (Ducati)
9. Alex Lowes (Suzuki)
10. Leon Camier (MV Agusta)
11. Matteo Baiocco (Ducati)
12. Leandro Mercado (Ducati)
13. Troy Bayliss (Ducati)
14. Jed Metcher (Kawasaki)
15. Sylvain Barrier (BMW)
16. Roman Ramos (Kawasaki)
17. Randy de Puniet (Suzuki)
18. Larry Pegram (EBR)
19. Santiago Barragan (Kawasaki)
20. Imre Toth (BMW)
Haslam got the draft just right in Race 2, timing it perfectly to beat Rea in a photo finish, taking the win by 0.010 seconds. Davies grabbed third.
Once again Rea held the front off the start, with Haslam and Davies in tow. Van der Mark was fourth with Sykes in fifth and Torres in sixth and Guintoli in seventh. Bayliss was up inside the top-10 again during the initial laps, slotting into eighth during the early rotations.
Rea, Davies, Haslam and Van der Mark started to break away from the field by Lap 6, and this time around the Pata Honda rider was looking to improve on his Race 1 result. He fought with Haslam for third for a period and then entering Lap 8, Van Der Mark made an impressive move to take the lead. He even opened up a slight gap on the subsequent laps.
Positions shuffled between Rea, Davies and Haslam until Lap 13, when the Kawasaki rider started pushing his way up, first on Davies then on Haslam and then on Van der Mark for the front. VDM fell to fourth and held there until Lap 18, but then he came into a corner too hot and went down, sliding into the grass. He was able to walk away from the incident with no major injuries.
That left Haslam, Rea and Davies to battle for the lead once again. Rea moved on Haslam on Lap 19 for the lead, and Davies held to the Kawasaki’s rear tire to move into second in the same move. The next lap saw Davies push ahead of Rea for the lead, and then on Lap 21 things changed again when Haslam passed to the lead, Rea moved into second and Davies dropped to third.
On the final lap, Rea moved on Haslam as they neared the checkers, but he was unable to keep the Aprilia from gaining the slightest edge at the line.
“I could not have had a better weekend,” said Rea. “The team were not so optimistic about winning races or being on the podium here with the pace of some other bikes but together with Pere, Paolo, Javier, all the guys from Showa, all my mechanics, we worked really hard and never lost sight of our goal, which was to be strong for 22-laps each time. Leon just had more pace today in each race, so race one fell in my hands a little, but I am so happy to be getting out of here with 45 points and starting the season strongly. I did not expect these results at all. We were not the most optimistic so to be just pipped by a small margin in race two, and by my old team-mate Leon, I am happy for him. We did the maximum we could and came away with the maximum points we could have had. I am happy and excited to move on from here with 45 points.”
“This race brings back great memories,” said Haslam. “My last win was at Kyalami in 2010 after a great battle with Rea. My compliments to my team. They did a great job all weekend. In Race 1 I unfortunately made a mistake, but luckily I felt like I had a wide enough margin and I was able to rejoin the pack and finish second in the final dash by just a few thousandths. I started Race 2 even more motivated to win. Despite feeling like I had less “reserve” after the halfway point, everything went according to plan. In the last turn I opened up the throttle at the right time and I realized that I had overtaken Rea straight away right on the finish line. I am truly happy to finally be back on the top step of the podium!”
Sykes improved to fourth by the finish, followed by Guintoli in fifth and Terol in sixth. De Puniet took seventh while Camier grabbed eighth.
After battling in the top-10 early on, Bayliss made a pit stop during the second half of the race for new rubber, rejoining well behind the pack but still finishing 16th.
Haslam and Rea are now tied at 45 points apiece as the series heads to its first ever stop at Chang International Circuit in Thailand next month.
World Superbike Phillip Island Race 2 Results 2015
1. Leon Haslam (Aprilia)
2. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki)
3. Chaz Davies (Ducati)
4. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
5. Sylvain Guintoli (Honda)
6. Nicholas Terol (Ducati)
7. Randy de Puniet (Suzuki)
8. Leon Camier (MV Agusta)
9. Matteo Baiocco (Ducati)
10. Roman Ramos (Kawasaki)
11. Leandro Mercado (Ducati)
12. Sylvain Barrier (BMW)
13. Santiago Barragan (Kawasaki)
14. Larry Pegram (EBR)
15. Christophe Ponsson (Kawasaki)
16. Troy Bayliss (Ducati)
17. Imre Toth (BMW)
2015 World Superbike Championship Points
1. Leon Haslam, 45
2. Jonathan Rea, 45
3. Chaz Davies, 32
4. Tom Sykes, 23
5. Sylvain Guintoli, 20
6. Nicholas Terol, 18
7. Leon Camier, 14
8. Jordi Torres, 13
9. Matteo Baiocco, 12
10. Michael van der Mark, 11
1990 Kawasaki Vulcan 500
1990 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6
1990 Kawasaki Vulcan 500
1990 Kawasaki Vulcan 750