The Spanish rider needed just two points to become a back-to-back WorldSBK Champion and he duly did so in Race 1 with victory
Alvaro Bautista’s (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) record-breaking campaign culminated in securing his second MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship title at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto after he won Race 1. The reigning Champion needed to score only two points to become a back-to-back Champion and he did just that to add his name to an exclusive club as he fended off Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) to end his hopes of taking the title fight until the last day of the season.
A CHAMPION CROWNED AGAIN: Bautista makes it two in a row
Bautista got the holeshot when the 20-lap race got underway and immediately looked to pull out a gap over his rivals, while Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) started from seventh but made his way into second by the end of Lap 2 knowing he had to win the race to have any chance of delaying Bautista’s coronation. With the #1 a few tenths clear, the #54 set about closing the gap and was faster in some sectors, while the Ducati was faster in others.
However, despite the Turkish rider’s pressure in the first half of the race, the reigning Champion was able to start edging clear with the gap reaching just under a second by the start of Lap 11. As the margin increased, so did his grip on the Championship. Needing just two points to win his second title, the #1’s victory by just over a second, after backing off on the final lap, meant he wrapped up the World Championship, to become the first Ducati rider to retain his title since Carl Fogarty in 1998 and 1999.
Razgatlioglu came home in second despite his valiant efforts in the early stages of Race 1, with the Turk finishing just over a second behind the now double WorldSBK Champion, with the #54 immediately congratulating his rival on the cool-down lap. The win was Bautista’s 25th win of the season, while it was his 87th podium in his WorldSBK career. For Razgatlioglu, it was his 114th rostrum to move him level with Tom Sykes as he took his 19th second place of the year.
FROM TENTH TO THE PODIUM: Locatelli fights to the rostrum
The fight for the final spot on the podium was a three-way fight between Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK), who started from the fourth row, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in the early stages before the #22 dropped down in the closing stages. ‘Loka’ came through on Lowes at Turn 13 for P4 on Lap 12, before making the same move on future teammate Rea two laps later to claim third and his 14th career podium. Rea finished in fourth, just under a second back from the Pata Yamaha rider.
TOP DUCATI BATTLE TAKES HUGE TWIST: Bassani and Rinaldi make contact, Independent fight goes on
With Lowes dropping down the order, Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) and Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) battled for fifth, with the #9 taking P5 by just 0.887s. Petrucci was able to close in on Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) in the Independent Riders’ battle as the #47 crashed out after an incident with Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) at Turn 9 on Lap 14. The #21 was given a Long Lap Penalty for the incident and finished in eighth; six seconds behind Lowes who was able to stem his drop down the field for seventh. In the fight to be the second Ducati rider in the standings, Bassani’s non-score and Rinaldi’s eight points have allowed the latter to close the gap to just three points. For the Independent Riders’ battle, Petrucci now trails Kawasaki-bound Bassani by 28 points.
IN THE POINTS: two Hondas in the top ten, Rabat uses factory Kawasaki to equal best result
Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) claimed ninth after being unable to take advantage of Rinaldi’s penalty with the Italian coming out ahead of the #7 after serving his Long Lap Penalty. He was three seconds clear of teammate Xavi Vierge, while Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was 11th. With Kawasaki Puccetti using a factory ZX-10RR this weekend, the Spaniard was able to equal his best result in WorldSBK. He was two seconds clear of Lorenzo Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha) in 12th, while Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) was the lead BMW rider in 13th. He fended off teammate Garrett Gerloff as he recovered from a Turn 2 crash on Lap 10, with the American able to battle back for two points. Malaysian rider Hafizh Syahrin (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) rounded out the points scoring positions.
HOUSEKEEPING: just missing out on points, factory BMW disaster on Saturday
Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing MOVISIO) narrowly missed out on his first point of the year in 16th, as he finished less than a tenth away from the Malaysian. Late substitute Leandro Mercado (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) was 17th, just a few seconds away from his teammate, while Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was 18th. The #77 tumbled down the order in the opening stages after suffering a technical problem but was able to finish ahead of wildcard Florian Alt (Holzhauer Racing Promotion) in 19th.
After an impressive Tissot Superpole performance, Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) crashed out at Turn 8, after making contact with the back of Bassani’s Panigale V4 R, with the #47 able to stay on his bike despite the contact. The Australian was taken to the medical centre for a check-up following his crash and he will be reassessed tomorrow morning before Warm Up after suffering a deep abrasion on his right elbow. Gabriele Ruiu (Bmax Racing) had been fighting for top BMW honours but a technical issue around the halfway stage forced him into the pits. ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team riders also retired. Scott Redding brought his bike into the pits after completing seven laps, while Michael van der Mark crashed at Turn 13 a few laps later.
The top six from WorldSBK Race 1, full results here:
1. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)
2. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) +1.195s
3. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) +9.071s
4. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +10.065s
5. Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) +10.661s
6. Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) 11.538s
Fastest Lap: Toprak Razgatlioglu (Yamaha), 1’40.351s
1. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 591 points
2. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) 526
3. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 363
4. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) 316
5. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) 244
6. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 241
Two races coming up on Sunday! Don’t miss the Tissot Superpole Race from 11:00 Local Time (GMT+1) using the WorldSBK VideoPass – only €9.99!