The pair came together in the early stages of Race 2 in France with Bautista retiring from the race and Rea finishing fifth after a Long Lap Penalty
The 2022 Pirelli French Round had more drama during Race 2 for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship field as Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) came together in the early stages of the race, with Bautista retiring at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours while Rea was able to continue the race but was penalized.
On the approach to Turn 13 on Lap 2, Bautista and Rea were side by side as they looked to fight each other for the podium places. Bautista was on the outside of the track with Rea looking to open up the corner as much as possible in order to get a good run down the hill, with the pair making contact.
Bautista went tumbling into the gravel at Turn 13 and retired from the race, while Rea was able to continue racing. However, the incident was investigated by the FIM WorldSBK Stewards with Rea determined to be at fault and he was given a Long Lap Penalty to serve, which dropped him down to seventh place. He was able to move up to fifth place by the end of the race.
Discussing the incident from his point of view, Bautista said: “The manoeuvre was out of the limits, for me. This wasn’t a mistake from Jonathan, he intentionally came to me. I think it’s unacceptable, these kinds of things, coming from any rider but especially coming from a great Champion like him. This kind of action, he showed he’s very fast, very brave, he’s a Champion. He won in the past, he wins, he stayed at the front, but he showed a Champion cannot do this kind of action. For me, it’s unacceptable. It’s nice for the Championship but, for me, it’s strange for me that if the stewards consider that it was a bad manoeuvre from Jonathan and they gave him a Long Lap Penalty, I think, it’s not enough. I get out of the race and he finished in fifth place; I think it’s not fair.”
Rea and Bautista were seen talking in the paddock after the race, and after the race Rea offered his thoughts on the crash. Apologising to Bautista, he said: “Firstly, I’m really sorry he went down. There was some contact there. I’ve been to see him already and offered him my apologies and gave my point of view. I listened to him so, for me, I’ve turned the page now. I arrived at Turn 13 with zero bad intentions. I only had to make a pass; I knew that Toprak would be the guy with the pace. I tried to make a good last sector before the long back straight. I went down to the inside, he committed to the apex so, of course, there was contact. For me, it wasn’t an over the line manoeuvre. I made my apex. I didn’t blow my own corner. Of course, I’m sorry he lost points; I don’t want to ride in this way. I got the penalty. I didn’t know whether to expect something or not and I had to take it.”
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK), who went on to win Race 2 and claim a Sunday double in France, gave his thoughts on the incident when speaking to the media after the race. He said: “Now I’ve watched the video. It’s difficult because this is racing, everybody is trying their best. Jonny tried passing in Turn 13. In the Superpole Race, I passed Alvaro at the same corner. The other corners, Ducati is very strong, and the acceleration is unbelievable. It’s not possible to pass Alvaro again, just corner 13 it’s possible. Jonny tried at this corner. Maybe he made a mistake, maybe not, I don’t know. He’s not trying to touch Bautista, just trying to pass him, but he’s crashed. I think he’s not happy about this.”
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Photo Credit: GPAgency