Rea had started in fourth place on the grid, having initially been on pole but being moved back three places to the head of row two due to a penalty, following a clash with Davies at the end of SP2. Davies then went on to lead for most of the race before Rea took over in the final stages and then the Ducati rider pulled off track due to a technical issue just before the start of the final lap.
Davies’ misfortune saw Sykes take a lonely second, the Yorkshireman crossing the finish line 4.5s behind Rea and 13 seconds in front of third placed Melandri. It was a good performance by Sykes considering his recent issues with a stomach illness.
Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) produced another solid result in fourth place on his Ducati Panigale R, his highest finish so far in 2017. An excellent ride by Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) to fifth on his return to action also gave him his best result of the season to date.
There were also season-best results for Stefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) and Roman Ramos (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) in sixth and seventh respectively. Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia), Leandro Mercado (IODARacing) and Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) completed the top ten.
There was frustration for Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) who ran long on the first corner and then crashed out of his home race at turn 5 early on. That was before his teammate Alex Lowes went down at turn 10 midrace to make it a difficult day for Yamaha.
Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) and Riccardo Russo (Guandalini Racing) were both unable to finish due to technical problems.
The WorldSBK riders will be back on track at Round 4 on Sunday for Race 2 at 1pm local time.
1st - Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team)
“I’m really happy, I’ve had so many questions over the weekend asking why I’ve won so many here and I don’t know why. It’s just a circuit I really like, it suits my riding style a bit and to make it happen here again is great."
2nd - Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team)
"I am happy with today considering where I was on Tuesday afternoon, to be second here to Jonathan is not too bad - OK I was gifted it but I had some limitations today. I think tomorrow we need to improve, overall we're collecting as many points as we can and were close to a good set-up."
3rd - Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati)
"For sure the podium here was impossible to get until this morning and my speed this morning was not good enough for top five, but then in Superpole and the feeling was back, and then in the beginning of the lap my pace was ok but not enough to stay with the front guys. Fourth for me was ok here in Assen."