The big winners off the line in Race 1 proved to be Pata Yamaha’s Alex Lowes and Honda’s Michael van der Mark, with Lowes taking the lead from P2 on the grid and van der Mark slicing through from tenth to P6, before KRT duo Rea and Sykes moved through on the Yamaha. Sepang veteran Nicky Hayden, after initially losing out off the line, soon fought back up into the top 5 to chase down the lead group.
Sykes began to pull a gap on teammate Rea, who found himself chased by key Championship rival Chaz Davies. Yorkshireman Sykes also set a new Lap Record on Lap 2, his first flying lap of the track, on his way to the commanding lead and victory. Jonathan Rea on the sister ZX-10R followed his teammate home to P2 after eventually shaking off the challenge of Davies.
Title contender Davies was the lead Ducati in Race 1 once again as the Welshman took his Aruba.it machine to yet another podium to cement his consistent challenge, and teammate Davide Giugliano, after missing the Round in 2015 due to injury, fought for position in the second group before crossing the line in P6.
Markus Reiterberger made good on his promise in Sepang as the rookie of the track impressed for Althea BMW, leading a charge back up the field to P4 in a stunning show of pace, until suffering a mechanical problem that forced him to retire. Teammate Jordi Torres also found great pace Race 1 in Sepang as the Spaniard fought to the front of the second group to take P4.
Alex Lowes, after a run off in the first half of the Race, staged an impressive fight back to take P5 and score a good haul of points for Pata Yamaha as the team run only one bike after Sylvain Guintoli’s crash in Imola. Honda duo Nicky Hayden and Michael van der Mark had a race of opposites as the American suffered more towards the end of the Race and his Dutch teammate moved up the through the field. After the duo met in the middle on track, van der Mark was able to take his veteran teammate on the penultimate lap to come home just ahead of Hayden in P7.
Anthony West, riding for injured Sylvain Barrier at Pedercini, moved up in the Race from his grid position to come home in P9, an incredible result after only getting on the bike for the first time on Friday. MV Agusta rider Leon Camier suffered in the early part of Race 1 in Sepang but struck back steadily to close out the top 10. Aprilia duo Lorenzo Savadori, fastest on Friday, and teammate Alex De Angelis were both running in the points before being unable to see the flag due to separate incidents on track. Josh Brookes beat Sepang veteran Karel Abraham over the line in the Milwaukee BMW inter-team battle, ahead of Lucas Scassa, a replacement rider at VFT, and Xavi Forés for Barni Racing Team who took P14. Grillini rider Josh Hook was the final points scorer, with the Australian rookie closing out the top 15.
Race 2 will see lights out on Sunday at Sepang at 16:00 local time (GMT +8) once again, as the teams and riders analyse the data from the first challenge and ready for the second.
WorldSBK - Sepang Race 1
Tom Sykes Kawasaki Racing Team
Jonathan Rea Kawasaki Racing Team +5.600
Chaz Davies Aruba.it Racing - Ducati +8.039