Rea battles Bautista at MotorLand Aragon for Race 1 honours, separated by just 0.090s

Saturday, 9 April 2022 13:06 GMT

Jonathan Rea and Alvaro Bautista went head-to-head for the first victory of the season at MotorLand Aragon with the six-time Champion just edging it

The 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season started in incredible style at MotorLand Aragon for the Pirelli Aragon Round as Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) opened his account for the season, the fifth time he has won the season-opening race. He was made to work hard for the victory after an incredible 18-lap race-long battle with Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) as the pair battled it out for victory.

NEW SEASON, SAME ACTION: the top three battle it out

As the lights went out, Bautista got the holeshot into Turn 1 but he soon found himself demoted into second as Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) forced his way through at Turn 2. It meant Rea was demoted into third place but he soon worked himself back into the front as the top three fought it out throughout each lap.

In what was a similar feeling to 2021, the Yamaha, Ducati and Kawasaki riders traded blows throughout the 18-lap race as Razgatlioglu, Bautista and Rea fought it out for victory with each rider using their bike’s strengths in the search for victory. The trio were overtaking each other down the back straight while Rea’s preferred option to make moves was into Turn 7.

At the end of Lap 9, Bautista had a huge moment which allowed Rea back through into Turn 1 at the start of Lap 10 after leading for a couple of laps, but the pair continued to fight through the final two corners in the battle for victory. On Lap 14, Bautista used the power of his Ducati to move into the lead of the race before Rea responded into Turn 7. Bautista tried a move on the last lap into the final two corners, but Rea was able to defend the position before winning a drag race to the line.

Despite Rea and Bautista battling, they were able to pull a gap to Razgatlioglu in third place as the reigning World Champion claimed a podium finish. Rea’s victory gave him his 21st consecutive podium at Aragon and his 22nd in total, the most any rider has at a single circuit for his 216th podium in his career. Second place for Bautista means he has now taken 28 podiums in his career, while Razgatlioglu now has 54 career podiums; the same number as his rider number until this season.

FIGHTING FOR THE TOP TEN: a competitive race for the top ten…

Michael Ruben Rinaldi ( Racing – Ducati) claimed fourth place as he finished around five seconds back from Razgatlioglu. The Italian had been fighting in the lead group in the first half of the race but soon found himself on track on his own as he finished five seconds clear of fellow Italian Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK).

Both Team HRC riders finished inside the top seven with Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge finishing sixth and seventh respectively, on a strong start for the two Spanish rookies looking to spearhead the Honda factory effort in 2022. Illia Mykalchyk (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) scored eighth place on his debut as he scored Ukraine’s first points in WorldSBK after becoming the first rider from Ukraine to race in WorldSBK. He finished just 0.084s behind Vierge.

American star Garrett Gerloff (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) finished in ninth place, just three tenths away from Mykalchyk in eighth place. Irish rider Eugene Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW) rounded out the top ten on his first race with the Bonovo BMW squad, finishing half a second clear teammate Loris Baz.

THE BATTLE FOR POINTS: rounding out the top 15

Luca Bernardi (BARNI Spark Racing Team) scored his first points in his first WorldSBK race as he came home in 12th place, scoring the first points for San Marino since Alex De Angellis finished 13th at Laguna Seca in 2017. Bernardi finished just three tenths clear of fellow rookie Philipp Oettl (Team Goeleven) in 13th as five of the seven debutants on the grid at Aragon scored points.

Frenchman Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) scored 14th on his return to competitive action following an injury-hit 2021 season, just 0.389s behind Oettl and 0.520s clear of Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) in 15th place; the British rider scoring a single point on his BMW debut.

TO NOTE: housekeeping from WorldSBK

Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) had been running towards the top ten but a trip through the gravel at Turn 15 dropped him down the order and he narrowly missed out on points as he finished in 16th place. He was less than a second clear of rookie Roberto Tamburini (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) in 17th place.

Starting his second season in WorldSBK, Kohta Nozane (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) finished in 18th place as he finished clear of Christophe Ponsson in the family-run Gil Motor Sport-Yamaha squad. Leandro Mercado (MIE Racing Honda Team) finished in 20th place, ahead of teammate Hafizh Syahrin, while Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) and Loris Cresson (TPR Team Pedercini Racing) rounded out the classified finishers.

Gabriele Ruiu (Bmax Racing) was the first retirement of the 2022 season when he brought his BMW M 1000 RR machine into the pits in the early stages of the season, while Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) crashed out of the race at Turn 12 on Lap 7.

The top six following WorldSBK Race 1, full results here:

1 Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)

2. Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) +0.090s

3. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) +5.416s

4. Michael Ruben Rinaldi ( Racing – Ducati) +10.272s

5. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) +15.767s

6. Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) +18.760s

Watch WorldSBK action on Sunday starting with Warm-Up at 09:00 Local Time (GMT+2) and the Tissot Superpole Race at 11:00 using the WorldSBK VideoPass!­