The reigning Champion opened up his title lead to 57 points after victory in the final race of the French Round
Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) bounced back to claim victory in Race 2 at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours as he took advantages of his rivals battling behind him in a red-flagged MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship race. The reigning Champion extended his lead by five points in the title fight ahead of Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) after the Turkish star battled hard with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) for second place.
RED FLAG HALTS PROCEEDINGS: Bautista’s lead brought back
Bautista got a stunning start as the lights went out and immediately moved into the lead but faced stiff competition from Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK). Rea went for a move at Turn 5 on the reigning Champion on the inside, but Bautista was able to pick his bike up well and reclaim the lead instantly. Rea kept the pressure on the #1 but Bautista did start edging out a gap.
However, at the start of Lap 5, the red flags were deployed following an incident involving Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) and Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) on the previous lap at Turn 5. Aegerter was taken to the medical centre for a check-up following the crash and declared unfit with a suspected concussion. The incident was placed under investigation by the FIM Stewards and Redding given a double Long Lap Penalty. Although he took to the grid for the restart, Redding had a technical problem on Lap 10 and retired after serving his penalty. At the end of Lap 4, Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) crashed at the final chicane, and he slid across the circuit and into the grass. He was able to take his bike back to the pits. Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was unable to restart the race as he suffered a technical issue and could not bring his bike back.
FIGHTING FOR THE PODIUM: Bautista wins, Razgatlioglu and Rea go head-to-head
On the restart, Bautista moved away well from P1 and, despite challenges from Rea and Razgatlioglu, was able to hold on to the lead. Razgatlioglu moved ahead of Rea on the exit of Turn 15 to claim second but a mistake at Turn 5, where he went in too deep and had to stand the bike up, allowed Bautista to escape in front while he fended off Rea. The #65 looked to overtake his rival on Lap 3 through Turn 4 and into Turn 5 but the Yamaha star cut back, before Rea made a similar move on Lap 6 and made it stick. On Lap 12, the 2021 Champion got a run on his long-time rival and overtook him under braking into Turn 5 to move into second.
Two laps later and the two Champions were side-by-side throughout much of the lap, with Razgatlioglu holding on to second place before Rea tried another move a lap later. Once again, the #54 came out on top in that fight. As the penultimate lap started, Rea looked for second but Razgatlioglu resisted before pulling out a gap on the final lap to beat Rea by just under a second. While those two were fighting, Bautista was out in front, and his gap extended to almost ten seconds before he rolled off in the final few laps before winning by six seconds. It was Bautista’s 51st win in WorldSBK and 81st podium. Razgatlioglu now has 107 podiums to his name, only two fewer than Carl Fogarty, while Rea’s moved onto 259 podiums.
FIERCE BATTLE FOR FOURTH: seven seconds separating four riders
Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) battled to fourth place in his 100th race start, with the Italian finishing fourth 26 times out of those 100 races. He was half-a-second clear of Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) who capped off an excellent French Round with fifth after starting from tenth. The Texan put in several passes including on Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing), also celebrating his 100th start, at Turn 13 on Lap 13 to sixth, before they both passed Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) as he dropped to seventh in the closing stages. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) had been in this battle too but a late issue forced him to retire.
NOTHING TO CHOOSE BETWEEN P8 AND P10: Gardner, Vierge and Oettl scrap
Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) secured eighth place and finished just two seconds away from ‘Petrux’ ahead, but he had to fend off both Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) and Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven), with the trio separated by around four tenths. Oettl secured a top ten finish in France but finished 0.049s behind Vierge after enjoying a strong trip to Magny-Cours for the Independent Ducati rider.
IN THE POINTS: history made in WorldSBK
Spanish rider Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) was 11th and 2.6 seconds down on Oettl as the flag fell with the #7 trying a new Honda chassis this weekend. He had a four-second margin over home hero Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) in 12th as he finished in the points. Rookie Lorenzo Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha) gave this team something to cheer on home soil with 13th place, coming off the back of the team’s two WorldSSP podiums at their home round. Both PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team riders scored points with Hafizh Syahrin in 14th and Hannes Soomer four seconds behind. Soomer becomes the first Estonian rider to score WorldSBK points.
Isaac Vinales (TPR Team Pedercini Racing) narrowly missed out on a point as he finished three tenths down on Soomer, while Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing MOVISIO) was the last of the classified riders in 18th. Bradley Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) had a stunning start as the lights went out for the second time as he moved in eighth, but he crashed at Turn 13 on the opening lap; the Brit dropped to last. Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) went down at Turn 5 on Lap 3 and retired from the race.
The top six from WorldSBK Race 2, full results here:
1 Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)
2. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) +5.893s
3. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +6.779s
4. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) +10.978s
5. Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) +11.482s
6. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) +15.258s
Fastest Lap: Alvaro Bautista (Ducati), 1’36.670s
1. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 467 points
2. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) 410
3. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 290
4. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) 256
5. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) 219
6. Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) 180
Next up, Aragon: watch a potentially pivotal Aragon Round LIVE and UNINTERRUPTED using the WorldSBK VideoPass!