Rea second as Melandri scrapes into the top three.
Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) has dominated the opening race at Phillip Island’s round one of the 2019 FIM Motul Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK), making his mark while on debut in the series and aboard the all-new Panigale V4 R.
The Spanish ace, who transferred from MotoGP to WorldSBK this season, put on a stellar display, gaining the lead immediately before crossing the line with an incredible 14.983s over reigning world champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team).
Rea had his hands full with new teammate Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team), the duo jostling for position in the opening half of the encounter before Haslam went down, recovering to finish 15th.
Marco Melandri, on debut with new WorldSBK squad GRT Yamaha, nabbed Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK) at the line for third, just 0.050s separating the pair, while the top five was completed by Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK).
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) showed his nose inside the top five for much of the race before settling for sixth, as the top 10 was rounded out by Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK), Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha), Michael Rinaldi (Barni Racing Team) and Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati).
Australian wildcard Troy Herfoss (Penrite Honda Racing) retired from the race six laps into the affair. The WorldSBK category will return to the circuit tomorrow for races two and three.