An incident that saw two riders crash out on the first lap of the original 13.00 race start brought out the red flags and the race was restarted at 13.21, over a shortened distance of 19 laps.
Having finished second in Superpole Rea was in contention for the race win from the start, taking the lead for six laps before Marco Melandri came past.
Getting involved in a fight with Chaz Davies for a time in the mid-section of the race, Rea eventually got free and started to pursue Melandri again. Rea was gradually catching ground to the lead as the race unfolded, with both Rea and Melandri setting lap records on the new Jerez track surface.
After Melandri’s bike experienced a technical issue Rea re-took the lead and won by just over a second from Davies, his first ever WorldSBK win at the 4.423km Jerez circuit.
After an early issue while changing gears Sykes had been part of a train of four leading riders, which became six after he had clipped some trackside gravel on lap five, dropping back from immediate contention with the leading group before recomposing himself and pushing on again.
Racing at high pace just behind Chaz Davies - his rival for overall second in the championship - Sykes tried all he could to get back ahead before the chequered flag. He finished just under half a second behind, in an eventual third place after Melandri’s exit.
Sunday’s race, again scheduled for 13.00, will now see Rea and Sykes start from the third row of the grid, as they finished on the race one podium.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “So, so nice to tick that box for a Jerez race win. I really wanted it, even before the problem for Marco. I was riding way over my limit to try to chase Marco down. The gap was slowly coming, some laps not changing, but tenth by tenth I was getting excited. In the end he had a problem and I am really sorry for him because he did not deserve that. We both deserved to be able to fight to the end. I was trying to manage the race a little bit in the beginning because I did not get a long run in yesterday, after my big crash, so I was not sure how the tyre choice we made was going to play out. Arguably, I gave up too many positions when Marco came past but in the end we go it done. I went all in to that race. With the position we now have in the championship I went in over my head - but it was fun to ride like this.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “We had a good race set-up at the end of FP2 on Friday and FP3 today, on used tyres, so I was relatively happy in the hot conditions. The pace stayed very consistent and it was quite nice at the end. Unfortunately at the beginning of the race there was a little bit of stop-start so I could not set my usual rhythm and I lost some time. In the first three laps I had a small issue with gear selection, and then missed a gear coming onto the straight. I lost some track positions but regrouped and then the pace was acceptable. Chaz found some speed from free practice but apart from that, the top four or five were very similar in pace. We were just not able to bridge that gap to the guys in front.”