A race that will live long in the memory: Bautista victorious in unbelievable Razgatlioglu fight with 38 passes for the lead in the final 10 laps, Rea tumbles on Kawasaki farewell
Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) claimed a Prometeon Spanish Round hat-trick but he was made to work very hard for it as Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) did everything he could to bid farewell to Yamaha with one more victory. Nothing could separate the top two in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship standings at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto, with the #54 demoted one place for a track limits infringement despite crossing the line in first after he and Bautista scrapped it out in Spain with an incredible 38 passes across their battle across the second half of the race, and 39 in total including the early laps.
ONE OF THE BEST RACES… EVER? Bautista, Razgatlioglu say goodbye to 2023 in stunning fashion
Bautista initially got away well when the 20-lap race got underway, but his lead lasted only five corners as six-time Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) forced his way through into the lead, looking to end his Kawasaki career on a high note. The #1 was in second but he ran wide at Turn 2 on Lap 2 which allowed Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) into P2 in the early stages.
However, Rea’s fairytale ended turned into a nightmare on Lap 5. He lost the front of his ZX-10RR into Turn 2 and crashed, dropping all the way down to 23rd and last; handing the lead to the #54 with double Champion Bautista, using a special yellow livery on his Panigale V4 R, into second. The 2021 Champion held a lead of just over a second although the #1 was hunting him down towards the end of the first half of the race.
From Lap 11, the gap between them was consistently reducing before one of the best races ever. On Lap 12, Bautista attempted a move on the inside of Turn 13 but the #54 was able to cut back and keep his lead before the Ducati rider claimed the lead on Lap 13 with a series of passes between the pair. The #1 got ahead on the back straight before his rival responded under braking at the Turn 6 hairpin, before Turns 9, 10 and 11 had three position changes: Bautista holding onto to lead at the end of the lap. On Lap 14, Razgatlioglu got through at Turn 1 but ran wide at the Turn 2 right-hander, allowing the Spaniard back through. Through the right-handers towards the end of the lap, the two rivals were exchanging positions, with Bautista finishing the lap ahead. On this lap alone, there were six changes of position at Turns 1, 2, 9, 10, 11 and 12.
The race continued to ignite with the pair fighting into Turn 6, Bautista getting the run on the straight with the Turkish star responding on the brakes. Later on that lap, at Turn 13, Bautista looked for a move on the inside before the Yamaha cut back to stay ahead on the start-finish straight, before a similar move on Lap 17. A lap later and the Spaniard tried a different move. He looked to outbrake the 2021 Champion at Turn 1, but ran wide which allowed third-placed Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) to close in. It was a similar move on Lap 19 but again, he ran wide, setting up a last-lap showdown.
The Yamaha rider was leading throughout the final lap but his rival, once again, tried a move up the inside of the final corner. Razgatlioglu cut back to retake the lead and crossed the line in first, but he was demoted one place for exceeding track limits on the final lap, on the exit of Turn 13, which allowed Bautista to take his 59th win in WorldSBK, moving him level with Carl Fogarty. In total, the pair passed each other a scarcely believable 38 times from Lap 10 to Lap 20, with all but three corners on the Jerez circuit used to make a move. Razgatlioglu’s second place gave him his 100th podium for Yamaha in his final race with the manufacturer in his 131st race. In third was Swiss rookie was Aegerter, who was just three tenths away from victory, but still took his second podium of the season with third.
GRT YAMAHA FINISH STRONGLY: P3 and P4 for them, Petrucci top Independent in Race 2
GRT Yamaha ended the season on a massive high. Two podiums on the final day of 2023 season kept their podium streak going since they joined WorldSBK, while teammate Remy Gardner missed out on his first podium by just a second behind his teammate in Race 2. Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) was fifth ahead of Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) in sixth. The #21 had been in the podium fight but dropped down the order in the second half of the race, eventually finishing more than three seconds down on ‘Petrux’.
TEAMS’ CHAMPIONSHIP DECIDED: Aruba.it Ducati win it on countback…
Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) was seventh and only eight seconds away from Bautista after 20 laps after completing yet another strong weekend as he searches for a 2024 seat. The German was ahead of Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) in eighth while stablemate Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) took ninth. The American had crossed the line in tenth, but a post-race penalty for Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) meant the Italian was demoted to P10. The penalty proved crucial in the outcome of the Teams’ Championship. Both Aruba.it Ducati and Pata Yamaha finished tied on 879 points, but the title went to the Ducati team due to having more feature-length wins.
ENDING 2023 IN THE POINTS: Bassani outside the top ten
Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) finished 11th as he ended his Motocorsa Racing career in the points, and after taking the Independent Riders’ titles in the Tissot Superpole Race. With Rinaldi taking fourth, the #21 was able to beat his adversary to fifth in the Championship standings with the #47 finishing sixth. He was more than two seconds clear of Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) in 12th, with the Dutchman leading home two Spaniards. Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) was the lead Honda rider in 13th while Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was 14th after one of his strongest weekends of the season. He scored eight points this season, with seven coming at Jerez. Lorenzo Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha) completed the points-paying position with 15th.
HOUSEKEEPING: missing out on points, no retirements in Race 2
Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) was 16th after he suffered a big crash in the Superpole Race, but he was able to finish outside the points, while Rea recovered to 17th. Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) was 18th with Malaysian rider Hafizh Syahrin (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) was 19th. Wildcard Gabriele Ruiu (Bmax Racing) took 20th ahead of Leandro Mercado (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team), Florian Alt (Holzhauer Racing Promotion) and Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing MOVISIO).
The top six from WorldSBK Race 2, full results here:
1 Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)
2. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) +0.018s
3. Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +0.321s
4. Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +1.370s
5. Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) +2.602s
6. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +5.997s
1. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 628 points
2. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) 552
3. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 370
4. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) 327
5. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 251
6. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) 249
2023 might be over but 2024 starts almost immediately. Follow all the news, interviews and highlights from the Jerez test next week using the WorldSBK VideoPass!