Race 1 of the Italian World Superbike Championship was brought to a premature end after Eugene Laverty was involved in a dramatic incident at Imola, though the driver escaped without serious injury.

The Antrim native was taken to the medical centre after his Milwaukee Aprilia burst into flames after crashing into the barrier, but was pictured giving the thumbs up later after the medical assessment.

Laverty was off the bike when it caught fire.

The 30-year-old qualified in sixth place for Race 1 this morning with Chaz Davies on pole.

Laverty was battling with Leon Camier on the track before his race soon came to a dramatic end.

The red flag was waved after the incident, with race leader Davies awarded the victory. Fellow Northern Irish man Jonathan Rea was second on the podium.

Laverty was able to walk away, and later in a statement from his team said: "I'm okay after the crash and I thought it would hurt me more, but my gear did its job and I'm ready to get on the bike again tomorrow."

The second race of the weekend takes place on Sunday.