Ulster duo Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty battled to top five finishes in the opening race of last night's World Superbike round at Miller Sportspark, near Salt Lake City in Utah.
Carlos Checa on his Althea Racing Ducati pulled a controlled win out of the bag in race one, eventually heading home Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) by 2.313 seconds.
Third was Laverty’s Aprilia team-mate Max Biaggi who had to work hard in the final laps to hold off Rea on his Honda World Superbike.
Eugene Laverty finished fifth on his Aprilia with pole man Jakub Smrz (Liberty Racing Team Effenbert Ducati) sixth.
Slowing front row starter Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) was finally caught by Chaz Davies (ParkinGO MTC Aprilia) with Davies seventh and Sykes eighth.
Fine weather blessed the track although some degree of wind was still evident for the riders to deal with.
Sykes, riding in his 90th WSB race last night, headed the times in the morning warm-up, going 0.155 seconds faster than Miller magic man Checa on a circuit suited to the Ducatis.
Third in the final pre-race action proved to be Melandri with Biaggi fourth.
Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) was fifth as he found continual improvements in his machine set-up.
Laverty said of his qualifying performance: “We were fast and I'd say we got even better. The progress we've made with the set-up on my RSV4 lets me take full advantage of its potential. Even in Superpole on a qualifying tyre, I finally had a positive feeling.”