This weekend we are in the back garden of Ducati, yes, it’s the Italian round! Here at the Imola track in the north of Italy a lot of the big names within Ducati gather to support their country men, one of them being Andrea Dovizioso, MotoGP rider for the factory Ducati team here to support fellow riders.

From SP1, joining the battle for pole in SP2 was Bradl and Italian, Savadori who seemed very pleased to get through at his home race. Last year it was Davies on pole making a new lap record of 1:45.598s, which this year he was eager to beat, but unfortunately couldn’t do it in this session – however he did come very close towards the end. Davies did manage to hold P1 throughout the majority of the session without any big threats and this weekend, thankfully, there was no SP2 drama!

This weekend the grid started like this: Row 1: Davies, Sykes and Rea with Camier, Melandri and Laverty behind them. Row 3: Forés, Mercardo and van der Mark. Lining up behind them was Savadori, Lowes and Bradl in front of Hayden, Ramos and Krummenacher. The last 2 rows consisted of De Rosa, Badovini, De Angelis, Russo and Jezek. Sadly, Jordi Torres – who missed riding this morning – also missed the race today due to illness but will be reviewed before the race tomorrow to see if he is fit to compete.

There was a 10 minute delay to the start of the race due to a power cut, but once racing got under way it was Davies who kept his pole and took the hole shot beginning to make a gap. It was then Melandri who came up from the middle of the second row followed by Rea who was putting the pressure on.

Early on the quick times started coming in with Melandri going into the 1:46s but Davies responded with a time of 1:46.393, making a brand new lap record and increasing his lead up to 2.2 seconds by the 5th lap. Rea made a move on Melandri which he made stick for the rest of the race.

The battle for 6th place between Laverty and Camier, both on Italian bikes, was getting intense as they swapped positions, and the PATA Yamaha bikes of van der Mark and Lowes began to close in eventually allowing van der Mark to get through on Laverty. Forés managed to keep a consistent gap from Camier allowing him to keep his 5th place. Davies had a 7.5 second lead on Rea by the 13th lap which saw him constantly lapping in the 1:46s – the biggest gap he has had from Rea all season.

On the 16th lap the race was red-flagged due to track safety conditions and ended declaring Davies the winner. A crash from Laverty caused the red flag where it seems that him and Lowes has made contact causing the front mudguard of Laverty to come loose. Laverty had to bail off the bike as it went straight towards the tyre wall and burst into flames. Luckily Laverty got up and walked away from the incident with help from the marshals, clearly shaken up. The incident between both riders was under investigation but no action was taken, and Laverty had been taken to the medical centre for checks but was declared OK.

Here is what the top 3 had to say:

Davies: “I just got a mega start and then hit the first corner hard and didn’t look back from there really, made sure to set my pace and kinda felt the bike out a little bit over the first laps and then tried to stay consistent, mid 46s to see where we were at. I felt like I had a little bit more in the tank even for the last 5 laps even though we were stretching the gap. Days like this don”t come often so things are working so good and I have to say a huge, huge thank you to Ducati, to Aruba. A fantastic motorcycle here at Imola, it works incredibly well as you can see. So, so happy.”

Melandri: “It was a great result for me but I think that the bike for all the weekend was not as good as I want, it was quite slow and was quite difficult to not lose the position on Tom (Sykes) After about 5/6 laps, I was getting a bit better in the end, but I need to do better.”

Rea: “Honestly a good day for me, it’s probably the best position I could have hoped for today. Some issues, of course I don’t think we could have won the race but I think we can be a little bit better tomorrow, but really, really happy. Congratulations to Chaz (Davies) and Ducati, they were in a different race today but we are lucky we got to some other tracks but today was difficult and tomorrow we can do a bit better.”

The final results of the race were as follows:

Taking the win was Davies followed by Rea and Melandri finishing on the podium in front of his home crowd. 4th was Sykes, Forés and then Camier in 6th. Finishing 7th was van der Mark followed by his teammate Lowes, and Ramos and finishing out the top 10 was Bradl on the Honda Fireblade.

It was then De Angelis followed by the Italian, Savadori who sadly had fallen back during the race. 13th was Krummenacher and in 14th, De Rosa. Taking the last point was Badovini and just out of the points it was Jezek finishing the race 16th.

DNF: Torres never started the race due to illness, Mercado crashed out at T7 in the 4th lap and had to retire. Hayden (lap 5) and Russo (lap 10) were both sadly forced to retired also and finally after the big crash for Laverty, he didn’t finish the race.

Tomorrow the World Superbike race 2 will begin at 13:00 local time (12:00 GMT)