World Superbikes: Eugene Laverty in dramatic Superbikes crash
A high-speed crash involving Northern Ireland's Eugene Laverty brought a premature end to race one of the World Superbikes in Imola.
Laverty was able to walk away from the incident, which happened with six laps to go after his bike collided with Alex Lowe's Yamaha and burst into flames as it span off the track.
Ducati's Chaz Davies was the winner as officials quickly halted the race.
Jonathan Rea came second to maintain his lead in the world championship.
Laverty appeared to be attempting an overtaking manoeuvre when the front wheel of his Milwaukee Aprilia came into contact with Lowe's bike.
The Antrim native attempted to stay on the track but his bike spun out of control and Laverty managed to jump clear before it skidded across the gravel trap and burst into flames when it collided with the crash barrier.
The fire was quickly under control and Laverty was helped to his feet and taken to the medical centre for a check-up.
The incident resulted in red flags at the start of lap 13, meaning Davies was awarded his second race victory of the season.
The Welshman had already been in control after a blistering start had taken him over six seconds clear of Rea, the reigning world champion, with Marco Melandri in third.
Rea, who started in third place on the grid, overtook Melandri during the early stages to pick up more championship points and the Kawasaki Racing Team rider is now 71 points clear of his team-mate Tom Sykes.
"It was a great day for me," Rea said after claiming a podium finish. "It's probably the best position I could have hoped for today, given the track."
"Chaz and his team deserved the win. Today was a difficult one of us and hopefully tomorrow can be a little bit better."
The riders will return to action on Sunday with their second race of the weekendd taking place at 1pm local time at Imola.
|2017 WSB Riders' Championship|
|Jonathan Rea (GB)||Kawasaki||215 pts|
|Tom Sykes (GB)||Kawasaki||144|
|Chaz Davies (GB)||Ducati||136|
|Marco Melandri (Ita)||Ducati||113|
|Alex Lowes (GB)||Yamaha||84|
|Michael van der Mark (Ned)||Yamaha||71|