It was Lowes, starting from the second row of the grid, who made the running for Yamaha in the early stages, with the 28-year-old Briton embroiled in a heated battle for second place with reigning champion Jonathan Rea, Leon Haslam and Toprak Razgatlioglu, as Alvaro Bautista escaped at the front. A crash for Haslam at half race distance left Lowes and Rea alone to contest second place, until the pair were caught by Melandri with just two laps remaining.
Lowes, riding in some pain due to tendonitis in his left wrist, couldn’t hold off the initial challenge from Melandri, but struck back to pass the Italian twice on the final lap. However, it was Melandri who eventually got the better of the battle of the Yamahas, diving up the inside of Lowes on the entry to the final corner to claim third place and the final position on the podium.
Van der Mark adopted a cautious approach for the opening laps, in a bid to conserve his tyres for the latter stages of the race, but the 26-year-old upped his pace to try and stay with Melandri when the Italian passed him for seventh position just before half race distance. The two riders then managed to make up further places by passing first Razgatlioglu and then Sykes, after which van der Mark was forced to let Melandri go and settle for fifth position, having experienced a severe drop off in rear grip.
Cortese also made a cautious start to his first ever WorldSBK race and had dropped back to 11th position as the race approached the halfway point. The reigning Supersport World Champion then upped his pace significantly to progress up the order, eventually crossing the line in eighth position to achieve his goal of a top ten finish on his WorldSBK debut.
The four Yamaha riders will return to action at 12.30 tomorrow, when they will contest the first ever Tissot Superpole Race, a 10-lap sprint to decide the grid for tomorrow’s final 22-lap feature race, which gets underway at 15.00.