Jonathan Rea finished third in the opening race at Jerez in Spain on Saturday as team-mate Tom Sykes clawed back four points in the World Superbike Championship.
It was the first time Rea has ever finished on the rostrum at Jerez. The Ulster rider can secure back-to-back world crowns if he stretches his advantage over Yorkshireman Sykes by more than two points this weekend.
The 29-year-old settled for a safe third behind Sykes and runaway winner Chaz Davies, who blew the opposition away to claim his eighth win of the season on the Aruba.it Ducati – the Welshman’s best haul of WSBK wins in a season to date. It was also Davies’ third win on the trot as he maintains his stunning run of form on the Panigale since the summer break.
Rea now has a cushion of 44 points over Sykes heading into Sunday’s second race, with a maximum of 75 points on the table counting the final round of the championship in Qatar at the end of October. Davies is third is the standings, 72 points behind Rea.
Kawasaki wrapped up the manufacurers' crown for the second year in a row with Rea and Sykes in another consistent season for the Ninja ZX-10R.
Honda duo Nicky Hayden and Michael van der Mark finished fourth and fifth respectively, with Pata Yamaha’s Sylvain Guintoli completing the top six.