Jonathan Rea second in controversial opening World Superbike race in Argentina

Jonathan Rea finished as the runner-up on his Kawasaki in the opening race at the San Juan circuit in Argentina on Saturday.
Jonathan Rea finished as the runner-up on his Kawasaki in the opening race at the San Juan circuit in Argentina on Saturday.
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Jonathan Rea clinched second place in a drama-hit opening World Superbike race in Argentina, which saw only 12 riders take their place on the grid.

Concerns over slippery track conditions at the San Juan circuit led to a rider strike but the organisers pressed ahead with the opening race, which was won by Spain’s Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati).

Northern Ireland’s Eugene Laverty did not take part on his Team Go Eleven Ducati and the Toome man was joined on the sidelines by Bautista’s team-mate, Chaz Davies, plus Leon Camier, Marco Melandri, Sandro Cortese and Ryuichi Kiyonari.

Rea, who qualified third fastest on the front row, battled with Bautista throughout the first half of the race before the Ducati rider broke clear, eventually going on to seal his 16th win of the season by 1.5 seconds on his debut at the track.

Five-time champion Rea clinched second place on his Kawasaki ahead of the late-charging Toprak Razgatlioglu (Puccetti Kawasaki), with Michael van der Mark coming home a lonely fourth.

Alex Lowes, who will join Rea at Kawasaki in 2020, finished fifth on the Pata Yamaha ahead of Leon Haslam, who will leave Kawasaki at the end of the season.

Argentina is hosting the penultimate round of the championship, with the finale taking place in Qatar from October 24-26.

The Superpole race at San Juan is scheduled for 17:00 BST on Sunday followed by race two at 20:00 BST.