Jonathan Rea cruised to World Superbike victory in Race 1 of the Imola weekend to extend his championship lead, while Kawasaki teammate Tom Sykes was second.

Pole-sitter Rea took the holeshot down into Tamburello at the start ahead of Sykes, while Ducati duo Marco Melandri and rookie Michael Ruben Rinaldi debated third spot, with the former seizing the position at the end of lap one.

Chaz Davies was left with work to do after dropping to fifth at the start, but pushed too hard into the final chicane at the end of lap two and was forced to run on, dropping to eighth.

The Welshman was put under investigation for cutting the chicane, but escaped penalty, and was able to claw his way back to within two seconds of teammate Melandri in third in the closing stages.

Melandri responded to Davies’ advances and kept his two-second lead intact to complete the podium, while Rea led Sykes home by nearly four seconds to extend his standings lead to 42 points, and go just one win off of the all-time record of 59.

Davies took the chequered flag in fourth to secure Race 2 pole position, while Xavi Fores tallied up his eighth top-five result of the season.

Michael van der Mark scythed past Rinaldi late on to claim sixth on the Yamaha.

Lorenzo Savadori was top Aprilia rider across the line in eighth, while Puccetti wildcard Leon Haslam pipped the Yamaha of Alex Lowes to ninth by just a tenth of a second.

Eugene Laverty had been set for a top 10 finish on his return to WSBK, but a mistake at Acque Mineralli late on dropped him behind Toprak Razgatlioglu to 12th.

WSBK debutant Jason O’Halloran crashed at the Villeneuve chicane on the second lap and has been taken to the medical centre for checks, while Honda stablemate PJ Jacobsen didn’t make the start after an issue with his Triple M bike.

Race 1 results