World Superbikes: Jonathan Rea stripped of podium place in Jerez after collision with Alex Lowes
Jonathan Rea has been stripped of his podium place after the opening World Superbike race of the weekend ended in controversy in Spain.
Championship leader Alvaro Bautista was back on top for his 12th win in 14 races this season while Michael van der Mark beat defending champion Rea to second.
Rea had been involved in a battle with Alex Lowes for that final podium spot and sent the English rider skidding into the gravel on the final corner of the race as he tried to squeeze up the inside.
The Ballyclare man went on to apologise to Lowes' team immediately afterwards, stressing there was no intent to clip his fellow rider.
It had originally seemed like Rea would still be awarded third place but it has now been announced that penalties imposed will mean Rea misses a podium place, dropping to fourth in the overall classification.
To make matters worse, the defending world champion will also have to start from the back of the grid in Sunday's second race, rather than the pole position in which he had qualified.
"I’m so, so, so sorry for what happened because it was completely unintentional," he said after the race. "It was the last corner at Jerez and I went for the cutback, I never meant for any contact.
“I can’t really think about anything else right now and all I can say is I’m sorry again.”
Rea had claimed his first win of the season in Italy last month to breathe life into the Championshop race.
However, Bautista is now 55 points clear of his nearest rival at the top after his latest victory.
It's only the second time this season Rea has finished outside the top two.
Rea's fellow Northern Irishman Eugene Laverty is missing the Jerez round due to a wrist injury.
Belfast Telegraph Digital