As Championship leader and pole sitter Alvaro Bautista escaped at the front of the race, both Pata Yamaha riders spent the early stages riding in formation, pushing hard to close the gap to Rea in second place. It was van der Mark who caught the reigning champion first, outbraking Rea into the newly named Dani Pedrosa corner at the end of the back straight to move into second place. With a clear track in front of him the Dutchman quickly gapped the Kawasaki rider, who was already coming under intense pressure from the second Pata Yamaha R1.
After some aggressive but fair fighting between the two, Lowes finally made a decisive move with three laps to go, going underneath Rea into turn one to take third place. As the two riders approached the final turn for the last time, Lowes looked to have enough of a lead to ensure he’d claim the last step on the podium at the line. However, Rea misjudged his entry to the corner and made contact with Lowes, hitting the Pata Yamaha rider’s handlebar hard enough to cause him to crash. While Rea remained upright and managed to hold onto third place, Lowes could only remount to finish 16th and out of the points.
The incident was investigated by race direction, with a penalty imposed five hours after the chequered flag that demoted Rea from third to fourth position and saw Melandri awarded with his second podium finish of the season. Rea must also start tomorrow’s Superpole race from the back of the grid, but neither sanction compensated Lowes for the 16 points lost as a result of the last corner incident.
The crash left Lowes nursing a damaged left shoulder and contusions on his left wrist. After an assessment and treatment in the medical centre the Pata Yamaha rider is confident he will be fit to race tomorrow but will undergo a precautionary medical check ahead of warm up.
Van der Mark’s second place today saw him move ahead of Lowes in the championship for the first time this season. The 26-year-old is now third in the standings on 154 points, with Lowes now fourth on 140 points.
Melandri was unable to make the most of his front row start initially, as he struggled during the early stages of the 20-lap race with inconsistent braking. The GRT Yamaha rider recovered to end a run of difficult race weekends with a fourth place finish, which improved to third following the sanctions imposed on Rea. A mistake on the opening lap from Cortese, running wide on the brakes as he tried to make up places, saw the reigning Supersport World Champion initially drop back to 15th place. Cortese managed to fight his way back into the top ten over the course of the 20-lap race, eventually finishing in eighth place.
Ten Kate Yamaha Supported WorldSBK rider, Baz, made a points scoring debut aboard a Yamaha R1 that had been rebuilt overnight following his FP2 crash yesterday. The Frenchman finished in 12th position and is confident of improvement in tomorrow’s two races.