Jonathan Rea took his first win of the 2023 World Superbike season in race one at the Most circuit in the Czech Republic on Saturday.
Tyre choice proved crucial as the six-time world champion from Northern Ireland chose intermediates, which proved effective on a drying track.
The Kawasaki rider controlled the pace at the front for most of the race to win from Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu.
Series leader Alvaro Bautista was 12th; he heads the standings by 54 points.
The Ducati rider had led nearest challenger Razgatlioglu by 70 points going into Saturday’s 22-lap race.
Bautista had equalled the record for the most wins in a World Superbike season with his 17th success of the year at Imola two weeks ago.
The Spaniard was demoted to 14th place on the grid as a result of a penalty but got off to a flying start in damp conditions and was up 11 places to third by the end of the opening circuit.
Razgatlioglu, the most successful rider at the Czech circuit in terms of race wins, had ground to make up after a disappointing start from pole position.
Italian Axel Bassani built up a six-second lead at the front but like many of the riders in the field, including Bautista, was forced to pit to put on slick tyres as the track dried out.
Rea enjoyed a 12-second lead at the front at one stage but that was reduced to four seconds by Razgatlioglu by the chequered flag, the Turkish rider unable to reel in his rival enough to take the win.
Italian Danilo Petrucci was third and England’s Scott Redding fourth.
It was Rea’s first race win since the final round of the 2022 championship at Phillip Island and it was the first triumph in a Saturday race this season for any rider other than Bautista.
“I have to remind myself it was a conditions win but I really wanted it on the grid before the race. I knew it was my chance with me starting on intermediates,” said the 36-year-old, who moves up to third in the series.
“I tried to dig in in the early laps and then found myself with a huge gap which I just tried to manage.”
It was a 119th victory of Rea’s World Superbike career in his 399th race in the series and comes amid speculation linking him with a possible move to the Pata Yamaha team next season.
His 400th race will be in Sunday’s Superpole race, with the second feature race of the weekend to follow that.
World Superbike standings
1 Alvaro Bautista (Spa, Ducati) 395 points
2 Toprak Razgatlioglu (Tur, Yamaha) 341
3 Jonathan Rea (GBR, Kawasaki) 226
4 Andrea Locatelli (Ita, Yamaha) 218
5 Axel Bassani (Ita, Ducati) 188
6 Danilo Petrucci (Ita, Ducati) 133