UPS AND DOWNS: Bautista’s hat-trick, a milestone reached and rivals falter in Spain…

Monday, 8 May 2023 07:43 GMT

There were contrasting fortunes for the WorldSBK grid in Barcelona and we took a look at some of the ups and downs from Spain…

With the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship’s latest visit to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya done and in the history books, it’s time to look at the ups and downs from the Prosecco DOC Catalunya Round. The weekend belonged to one rider after setting a lap record in the Tissot Superpole session and winning three races out of three, a manufacturer reached a milestone of WorldSBK podiums but there were some downs too including crashes for rivals in Spain.

POSITIVES FROM BARCELONA: more victories, milestones met…

Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) extended his Championship lead to 69 points over Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) after his hat-trick in Barcelona, the second consecutive year he’s won all three races at the Catalan venue. He also broke the lap record on his way to pole position on Saturday as he capped off a perfect weekend on home soil. 11 wins in the first 12 races of 2023 is a record matched only by Neil Hodgson in 2003 and Bautista’s own run in the 2019 campaign.

Yamaha entered the Catalunya Round on 396 WorldSBK podiums and, with the Japanese manufacturer averaging four podiums a round in 2023 with riders Razgatlioglu and teammate Andrea Locatelli, seemed set to reach the 400 podiums milestone. They duly did so in Race 2 after Razgatlioglu claimed three second place finishes in Spain, while Locatelli continued his impressive start to the season with a late surge to third in the Superpole Race. With their podiums from Spain, Yamaha overtook Honda in the all-time WorldSBK list with Honda on 397 podiums.

It was a strong weekend for American star Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) as he consistently finished as the top BMW rider at a circuit he has gone well at in the past. He took ninth in Saturday’s Tissot Superpole to secure his best starting position since switching from Yamaha to BMW and he was able to convert this into three top-nine finishes: ninth in Race 1 and the Tissot Superpole Race and seventh in Race 2. He was the top BMW in all three races as well as in Saturday’s Superpole.

HOPING TO BOUNCE BACK: crashing from podium fights, rival collisions and no points

In terms of downs in Spain, there were a few. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) battled to a podium in Race 1 and he was fighting for another rostrum visit in the Superpole Race. However, when fighting with Razgatlioglu into Turn 1, he just touched the white line which was damp after some rain fell in the ten-lap race, with Rea crashing out of the race from the podium battle. This meant he had to start Race 2 from tenth place, and he was able to battle his way up to fifth place by the end of Race 2.

The Catalunya Round proved to be difficult for Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) too. The Italian rider could only manage 14th in Superpole on Saturday but he took advantage of two starts, one after a red flag, to haul himself into podium contention in the early stages of Race 1. There, he battled with Michael Ruben Rinaldi ( Racing – Ducati) with the factory Ducati rider forcing his way through at Turn 3 before the pair made contact at Turn 11 later on that same lap. Bassani was given a Long Lap Penalty for his role in the collision. On Sunday, he could only manage tenth in the Superpole Race and 11th in Race 2.

While Gerloff was enjoying his best weekend since joining BMW, Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was on the other end of the spectrum. For the first time since joining WorldSBK in 2020, Redding scored no points in a round. The British rider took 13th in Saturday’s Superpole, but started 16th in Race 1 after a three-place grid penalty for slow riding, and he retired after a crash on the opening lap of the restarted Race 1 when he made contact with the back of Remy Gardner’s (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) bike. He gained one place compared to his starting position in the Superpole Race, taking 12th, but he had another retirement in Barcelona when he brought his bike into the pits.

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