There were plenty of stories from MotorLand Aragon with a rollercoaster round for several riders on the grid
The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship descended on MotorLand Aragon, and it was a dramatic tenth round of the 2023 season. There were more title twists at the Tissot Aragon Round, a return to winning ways for one rider after a long wait and epic comebacks after disappointing Saturday mornings. Check out some of the ups and downs from an unforgettable visit to Spain.
BACK TO WINNING WAYS: Rinaldi stuns for first victory in two years
Two years after his last win, Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) returned to the top step after a two-year wait in Race 1 on Saturday. He gained from his teammate crashing but his race pace and consistency were second to none as ha battled both Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) for victory. Although his outright pace wasn’t as quick, it was more consistency and his drop off was less which allowed him to pass his rivals. Almost exactly two years on from his last win, the #21 was back on stop.
AN EPIC COMEBACK: from P24 to P5 for Petrucci
Saturday started off badly for Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) after crashing in the Tissot Superpole session, but he responded in style in Race 1. He was 17th by the end of Lap 1 and already in the top ten after just four completed laps. Progress was understandably slower as he reached the top ten, but he was still able to take fifth to finish as the top Independent rider. He didn’t make the same progress in Sunday’s Tissot Superpole Race – finishing 12th – which meant he started at the back for Race 2. In Sunday afternoon’s race, Petrucci was about to surge into the top positions before a technical issue forced him to retire.
HONDA’S STEP FORWARD: a consistent return to the top six
After having a successful test at Aragon a few weeks before the round, hopes were high that Honda would be competitive. Those hopes transpired as they finished all three races in the top ten with Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) and teammate Xavi Vierge. Lecuona, using Honda’s new superconcession chassis, took two top-six finishes as well as sixth in the Tissot Superpole session, to show Honda’s pace and potential while Vierge was matching his teammate. Will this translate to Portimao and Jerez?
A STRONG PERFORMANCE GOES UNREWARDED: Locatelli’s late heartbreak
Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) had been one of the stars of the Race 2 show on Sunday. From the second row, the #55 immediately leapt into the top two and briefly took the lead at the start of Lap 2 before dropping back. Throughout the majority of the race, the Italian was able to keep teammate Razgatlioglu at bay but a technical issue with just a handful of laps left meant he finished no points after a race where he deserved so much more.
SATURDAY DISASTER FOR BAUTISTA: two crashes close up the title fight
Heading into the Aragon Round, it had looked like Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) would be hard to beat. Formidable pace in testing a few weeks prior and his incredible form this year meant he was the favourite, especially when he took the lead of Race 1. However, his race soon unravelled. A crash at Turn 8 on Lap 6 dropped him down the order. The Spaniard fought back to P15 on the final lap but, as he looked for 14th at the final corner, crashed again and retired from the race. With Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) finishing second, the Turk closed the gap in the title fight by 20 points. The #1 did respond on Sunday with a Superpole Race win and also in Race 2.
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