PHILLIP ISLAND — Britain’s Jonathan Rea began the defense of his Superbike World Championship with a double victory at the first stop of the season at Phillip Island on Sunday.
Rea, on a Kawasaki, won the first 22-lap race of the season on Saturday ahead of Ducati’s Chaz Davis. He won again Sunday, regaining the lead on the last of 22 laps to beat Davies and Marco Melandri.
The double victory gave Rea a flying start to the new season, giving him 50 championship points and a 10-point lead over Davies and his Kawasaki teammate Tom Skyes.
Melandri and Davies both led on the closing laps but Rea was able to recover both times to reclaim the lead.
“To win two last-lap battles here in incredible,” Rea said. “I just wanted to come here and start my year in a good way. Before yesterday I hadn’t won after the summer break so it’s nice to kick-start my campaign.”
Melandri, starting from ninth place on the grid Sunday, achieved his first podium finish after almost 18 months away from the track. He said tire wear cost him the chance to challenge Rea more closely on the final laps.