The Championship leader extended his lead over both Razgatlioglu and Rea after a dramatic Race 1 in Argentina
Race 1 in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship had huge implications in the title fight at the Circuito San Juan Villicum during the Motul Argentinean Round, as Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) claimed a commanding victory in Argentina while title rival Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) finished in 15th place after the reigning Championship had an opening-lap crash as he looked to pass Bautista.
FIRST LAP DRAMA: Razgatlioglu crashes
With Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) taking the lead down the long back straight, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) tried to respond to lead into the infield section but lost the front of the bike and went crashing into the gravel. Razgatlioglu was able to re-join but was in last place. The incident cost Bautista time as he dropped back down to fourth place, behind Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) and iker Lecuona (Team HRC).
Bautista picked off Lecuona on Lap 4 to move into the podium places and only took two more laps to move into the lead of the race as he passed both Bassani and Rea on the back straight, after Bassani made a move for the lead on the second lap. Bautista was able to extend his lead at the front of the field for his 13th win of the season. Bautista was the only rider from the top three in the Championship to use the SCX tyre, with Rea and Razgatlioglu using the SC0. Victory also gave Bautista the 52nd podium of his WorldSBK career and the 25th of 2022.
Behind him, Bassani and Rea continued to fight it out for third place with the pair often inseparable throughout the lap. Rea made a move on Lap 8 to move into second place but Bassani was able to respond the following lap down the back straight while, on Lap 11, the pair went elbow to elbow throughout the final sector of the lap and down into Turn 1 on Lap 12; Bassani just holding on in that battle. The pair battled hard through sector four on Lap 18 with Rea making a move at Turn 15 and Bassani responding into Turn 16. On the run down to Turn 1, Rea outbraked Bassani into Turn 1 to stay ahead before fending off the Italian rider at the end of the back straight, going on to take second place ahead of Bassani in third. Rea’s second place was the 237th podium of his career and Kawasaki’s 395th race on the podium, while Bassani took his fourth podium and put Italy on the verge of a milestone having taken 399 podiums to date.
JUST MISSING OUT ON A PODIUM: in the top six, can they make gains on Sunday?
Lecuona was another who used the SCX tyre to take a strong result as he took fourth place after running in the podium places in the closing stages of the race, although he was unable to close the gap to the fighting Rea and Bassani ahead of him. He was ahead of Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) in fifth place, with three Ducatis in the top five, finishing around two seconds back from Lecuona at the end of the 21-lap race. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) took sixth place as he made sure Kawasaki had two bikes inside the top six.
BATTLING UNTIL THE END: the fight for seventh
There was a three-rider fight for seventh place with Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) and Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) scrapping it out. It was Redding who took seventh place at the end of the race as he fended off the chasing Locatelli and Vierge, with the trio separated by around one second. On the last lap, Locatelli made a move on Vierge to take eighth place and demoted the Spanish rookie to ninth. Dutch rider Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) claimed tenth place and rounded out the top ten.
IN THE POINTS: in the top 15
French rider Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) took 11th spot after a strong race from the French rider, finishing 1.5s clear of Xavi Fores (BARNI Spark Racing Team) who took points on his return to the Championship with 12th place. Garrett Gerloff (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) dropped down outside the points during the race but battled back to take 13th spot, ahead of Eugene Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW) in 14th place. Razgatlioglu showed enough pace to take home a single point after fighting back, passing Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) on the final lap. Baz had been running in the points but ran wide on Lap 16 at the end of the back straight.
THE LAST OF THE CLASSIFIED RIDERS: missing out on points
German rookie Philipp Oettl (Team Goeleven) took 17th place after he was given a three-place grid penalty for Race 1 for slow riding in Free Practice 2, with Oettl fending off the Moto2™-bound Kohta Nozane (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) in 18th place. Rookie Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) took 19th place ahead of stand-in rider Maximilian Scheib (MIE Racing Honda Team) in 20th and Argentinean Marco Solorza (TPR Team Pedercini Racing) in 21st on his return to the Championship.
HOUSEKEEPING: to note from Race 2
Home hero Leandro Mercado (MIE Racing Honda Team) was the first retirement of the race after the Argentinean rider had a Turn 14 crash on Lap 8. Mercado was taken to the medical centre for a check-up following the crash.
The top six following WorldSBK Race 1, full results here:
1 Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)
2. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +5.141s
3. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) +6.689s
4. Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) +11.917s
5. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +13.882s
6. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +14.507s
Fastest Lap: Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) – 1’37.389s
Watch more stunning WorldSBK action from Argentina on Sunday using the WorldSBK VideoPass!