World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea swept his rivals aside to win the first ever race at the Argentinean round of the championship in dominant fashion on Saturday.
The four-time champion, who qualified second fastest, quickly took the lead from pole man Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Ducati) and pulled clear of the chasing pack on his Kawasaki.
Rea was in total control as he won by 9.1 seconds from Melandri to seal his ninth straight victory, equalling the joint record held by American Colin Edwards and Britain’s Neil Hodgson, set in 2002 and 2003 respectively.
The Ballyclare man will now be gunning for a fifth successive double in race two on Sunday at the all-new El Villicum circuit in San Juan.
Turkish prospect Toprak Razgatlioglu finished third on the Puccetti Kawasaki ahead of Spaniard Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Ducati), with Eugene Laverty from Toomebridge taking fifth on the Milwaukee Aprilia.
Rea has now won 15 times this year and has American Doug Polen’s all-time record of 17 victories in a season firmly in his sights, with three races still to go.
The 31-year-old is also bidding to beat his own record of 556 points, which he set en-route to his third world title in 2017.