Phillip Island WSBK: Razgatlioglu wins opener, Rea crashes

Toprak Razgatlioglu won a scintillating opening race of the 2020 World Superbike season for Yamaha, while Jonathan Rea suffered a disastrous start to his title defence.

Kawasaki rider Rea suffered his first non-finish since the 2018 Brno round after a controversial clash with his former teammate and poleman Tom Sykes put him to the back of the field.

The pair were dicing for the lead on the opening lap of the 22-race contest, Rea having vaulted from third on the grid to grab the early advantage, when Sykes ducked underneath the five-time world champion going into Lukey Heights.

While it's unclear if there was contact, the move put Rea off-line and into the gravel at high speed, the Ulsterman miraculously managing to avoid a crash and rejoin the race 18th and last.

Rea had already started picking off a couple of riders and moving back up the order when he suffered a low-side crash at the Hayshed on lap six, ending his charge.

At the head of the field, a lead pack formed involving Sykes, Ducati's Scott Redding and the Yamahas of Razgatlioglu and Michael van der Mark, with the surviving works Kawasaki of Alex Lowes and the lead Honda of Leon Haslam also following closely.

However, at half-distance Sykes began to fade dramatically, having gambled on a different specification of rear tyre, relinquishing the lead to newcomer Redding on lap 12.

The Ducati rider led until he ran wide at Honda corner on lap 15, which allowed Razgatlioglu to hit the front ahead of van der Mark.

Van der Mark made his move on his teammate and grabbed the lead on lap 19, while at the same time Lowes picked off Redding to move into third.

On the penultimate lap, Lowes briefly passed both Yamahas into Turn 1 only to slip back to third, with Razgatlioglu moving back ahead of van der Mark in the shuffle.

The Turkish rider held on for the remaining lap-and-a-half to secure his third career WSBK victory on his debut for the Crescent-run Yamaha team, becoming the first rider to win the season opener for the Iwata marque since Fabrizio Pirovano in 1989.

Lowes managed to pass van der Mark at the last corner and fell only 0.007s short of pipping Razgatlioglu on the drag to the finish line, while Redding also managed to clear van der Mark to clinch the final spot on the podium on his WSBK debut.

Just 0.041s split the top three, making it the second-closest podium finish in series history.

Behind van der Mark, Haslam secured fifth aboard the all-new Honda CBR1000RR-R, while his teammate Alvaro Bautista recovered from 15th on the grid to finish sixth.

Loris Baz finished seventh on the Ten Kate Yamaha, ahead of Chaz Davies (Ducati), a rapidly fading Sykes and Michael Ruben Rinaldi (GoEleven Ducati).

MotoAmerica convert Garrett Gerloff had been running inside the top 10 on his WSBK debut before dropping to an eventual 14th on the GRT Yamaha.

Besides Rea, the only other non-finishers were Xavi Fores (Puccetti Kawasaki), who crashed at Turn 2, and Takumi Takahashi (MIE Honda).

Race results:

Cla # Rider Bike Laps Gap
1 54 Turkey Toprak Razgatlioglu
Yamaha 22
2 22 United Kingdom Alex Lowes
Kawasaki 22 0.007
3 45 United Kingdom Scott Redding
Ducati 22 0.041
4 60 Netherlands Michael van der Mark
Yamaha 22 0.137
5 91 United Kingdom Leon Haslam
Honda 22 3.910
6 19 Spain Alvaro Bautista
Honda 22 4.426
7 76 France Loris Baz
Yamaha 22 4.493
8 7 United Kingdom Chaz Davies
Ducati 22 11.849
9 66 United Kingdom Tom Sykes
BMW 22 11.910
10 21 Italy Michael Ruben Rinaldi
Ducati 22 11.922
11 50 Ireland Eugene Laverty
BMW 22 11.949
12 64 Italy Federico Caricasulo
Yamaha 22 20.720
13 11 Germany Sandro Cortese
Kawasaki 22 20.778
14 31 United States Garrett Gerloff
Yamaha 22 26.039
15 77 Chile Maximilian Scheib
Kawasaki 22 34.385
13 Japan Takumi Takahashi
Honda 14
12 Spain Xavi Fores
Kawasaki 10
1 United Kingdom Jonathan Rea
Kawasaki 5

Phillip Island WSBK: Sykes on pole, Bautista crashes

Rea blasts Sykes over Phillip Island contact