The sun continued to shine at Imola as the first race of the day got underway in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd.
From the start it was Pole Position setter Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) who immediately took the lead ahead of the Aprilia Racing Team duo of Marco Melandri and Sylvain Guintoli. Chaz Davies moved up to second at the end of lap one and as the laps progressed a number of riders in the leading group would run off track in their efforts to keep up with the flying British duo at the front.
By half distance Rea had moved clear of the chasing pack with a lead of almost two seconds. Behind the leader a four rider fight involving Davies, Tom Sykes, Sylvain Guintoli who had worked hard to bridge the gap after an off track excursion at the chicane on lap 2, Loris Baz and Davide Giugliano became more intense with every corner.