Alvaro Bautista, Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea were inseparable at times throughout the 2022 season and it led to an instantly classic of a year
The 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship was full of twists and turns as the ‘Titanic Trio’ of Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) fought tooth and nail for glory. There were thrills and spills, crashes and clashes and incredible battles between the three, but it was Bautista who came out on top to claim the 2022 title. This is the story of the ‘Titanic Trio’ in 2022 which became an instant WorldSBK classic season.
START AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON: Aragon and Assen provide early drama
With the season getting underway at MotorLand Aragon in April, it gave everyone a taste of what was to come in 2022 as Bautista and Rea went head-to-head at the last corner on the last lap of Race 1, setting up a season that would be defined by last-lap showdowns. Rea came out on top in that race but a Sunday double for Bautista put him on top in the Championship standings. If Aragon brought the first showdown, then the TT Circuit Assen brought the first clash as Razgatlioglu and Rea came to blows in Race 2 at the first two corners, paving the way for Bautista to gain 25 points on the pair of them in the process. Despite only being the second round, the drama was only just beginning in the fight to be crowned the 2022 World Champion.
LAST-LAP FIGHTS AND MECHANICAL WOES: an early but crucial part of the season
As the Championship moved from the Netherlands to Portugal and the Circuito Estoril, there were more incredible battles to come with all three races decided on the last lap. First, in Race 1, Bautista beat Razgatlioglu by getting a much better run off the final corner while in the Superpole Race, Rea came out on top after benefitting from Razgatlioglu’s incredible save. In Race 2, it was Rea vs Bautista with Rea coming out on top after a move into the chicane with Bautista unable to capitalise on Rea’s huge slide through the final corner. Misano also proved crucial in the Championship fight as Razgatlioglu retired from Race 1 with a mechanical issue, while he responded on Sunday to take his first win as reigning Champion in the Superpole Race. Four rounds in and all three from the ‘Titanic Trio’ had taken victory, with Razgatlioglu the last of the three.
THRILLS, SPILLS AND DRAMATIC FIGHTS: the battle rages on in WorldSBK
As WorldSBK headed to the iconic Donington Park, it was where Razgatlioglu’s title defence kicked off in style as he took his first WorldSBK hat-trick as he left his rivals behind to close the gap in the Championship fight. The gap was reduced even further in Race 1 when Bautista crashed out on his own at the final corner, with the Spanish rider bouncing back on Sunday to take a podium finish at a circuit he didn’t expect to be so competitive at. The Autodrom Most hosted the final round before the summer break but there were no thoughts on ‘holiday mode’ as Rea and Razgatlioglu fought hard, as did Rea and Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) as well as Redding and Razgatlioglu: it was almost déjà vu from 2021. After six rounds, the halfway point of the season, Bautista led the Championship on 298 points, 31 clear of Rea and 38 ahead of Razgatlioglu.
ELBOWS OUT: the summer break ends, and the drama begins… again
After a long summer break with teams and riders enjoying some downtime, and a summer test, the action kicked off at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours. There was an incredible last-lap fight between Rea and Bautista in the Superpole Race, which came after both Rea and Razgatlioglu crashed in Race 1. In Race 2, however, rivalries were reignited as Rea and Bautista came together in the early stages; Bautista was sent tumbling through the gravel and Rea was given a Long Lap Penalty for his involvement in the collision. With Razgatlioglu winning that race, the gap was now just 30 points with Rea 47 points further back. Bautista would be able to reverse this trend just a round later as he took his first hat-trick of the season at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya to extend his Championship lead once again.
PIVOTAL PORTIMAO, AMAZING ARGENTINA: one hand on the trophy…
As WorldSBK headed west from Barcelona to Portimao and the stunning Algarve, it was a tail of fierce battles on Sunday. Razgatlioglu was able to resist Bautista in the Superpole Race but, over a longer distance in Race 2, was unable to hold on as Bautista claimed victory. The flyaway races began after with a visit to Argentina and Race 1 really did allow Bautista to put one hand on the trophy as Razgatlioglu crashed in Race 1 when fighting for the lead on the opening lap; although able to finish in the points, he lost ground to his main rival.
FLYAWAY DRAMA: Indonesia decides the title, gambles galore in Australia
WorldSBK headed to Indonesia for the penultimate round of the season and, despite Razgatlioglu wrapping up another hat-trick, Bautista was crowned Champion in Race 2 with a podium finish. He has since spoken about this moment in a feature interview, but arguably his greatest ride of the season came in the Phillip Island Superpole Race: 16th at the end of Lap 1 to winning in the 10-lap race after taking a slick tyre gamble. It came after a flag-to-flag battle in Race 1 at the iconic circuit and the Australian Round capped off an incredible and unforgettable season of action. With the five factory teams staying the same for 2023, and the season starting once again in Australia, who would bet against more of the same next year?
Re-watch the incredible moments from 2022 and get set for 2023 using the WorldSBK VideoPass!