The Spaniard claimed his 15th win of 2023, and 11th in a row, while six-time Champion Rea secured his 250th podium in WorldSBK
Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) wrote himself into the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship history books again during Race 1 at Donington Park as his victory in the UK gave him his 11th in a row after a fierce ‘Titanic Trio’ scrap. He ended Ducati’s winless run at the iconic UK venue circuit as he fended off Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), while the Northern Irishman made more history of his own at the Prosecco DOC UK Round.
HISTORY IN THE ‘TITANIC TRIO’: droughts end, record podiums added to…
Bautista got the holeshot as the lights went out as he looked to end Ducati’s Donington drought, but his lead did not last long as polesitter Rea took advantage of the Spaniard running wide on the entry to the Foggy Esses on Lap 2 to take the lead. The Ulsterman was able to pull away from Bautista, but the reigning Champion soon found himself under pressure from 2021 Champion Razgatlioglu as the Turk looked to make gains.
Razgatlioglu made his move on Bautista at Turn 11 on Lap 3 before setting his sights on Rea out in front, with the gap coming down as soon as the Yamaha rider got ahead of Bautista. On Lap 6, the Turkish star made his move on Rea at the same corner to move into the lead, but he was unable to pull a gap as the ‘Titanic Trio’ battled it out at the historic venue.
The trio switched positions several times between Lap 6 and Lap 9 with all three taking their turn to lead the race before Bautista made a move on Razgatlioglu on the exit of Coppice to move back into first. Razgatlioglu and Rea both remained in touch with the reigning Champion edging out a small gap. On Lap 11, Bautista posted a new race lap record of 1’26.615s as the gap edged out to just over half-a-second to his rivals.
The Ducati rider’s pace was shown two laps later when he set a 1’26.610s to break his own lap record with the gap up to 1.200s at the start of Lap 15. A lap later, he went a tenth quicker as he showed his consistency. He was the only rider to lap in the 1’26s bracket at this stage of the race with Razgatlioglu and Rea dropping into the 1’27s. While Bautista and Razgatlioglu had their places secured, Rea had to fight Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) for third place. The rookie had been just behind the lead group, but his late-race pace allowed him to pass Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) on Lap 16 at the Foggy Esses before chasing down Rea for third although Rea was able to manage the gap throughout the final laps to secure third.
Bautista’s victory means Ducati’s 12-year wait for a Donington victory came to an end as he extended his Championship lead to 91 points ahead of Razgatlioglu. His win also means his winning streak has reached 11 races; equalling the longest set by Rea in 2018 and himself in 2019. Razgatlioglu’s second place puts him on 97 WorldSBK rostrums as he closes in on a century while Rea secured his 250th podium; the first rider to achieve this feat.
BEST RESULTS: just missing out on a first podium…
Petrucci missed out on a podium by only 1.740s but the two-time MotoGP™ race winner was still able to take his best result in WorldSBK as he finished in fourth place. His previous best had been fifth in Indonesia Race 1. He was almost three seconds clear of compatriot Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) after he showed strong race pace to move up the order from seventh, including passing Lowes on Lap 21 at the Foggy Esses for fifth. Home hero Lowes limited the damage in the closing stages to take sixth place after a really impressive start to the 23-lap race.
BATTLING BACK: Bassani goes from 14th to seventh
Italian rider Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) secured seventh after starting from 14th. The Independent Ducati star moved into seventh in the first half of the race as he fought his way through the field and he remained there, finishing 12 seconds down on Bautista. He was ahead of the two ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team riders as Scott Redding and Tom Sykes battled it out on the final lap. The 2013 Champion was ahead as Lap 23 started but Redding made a move for eighth as he went up the inside of his teammate at the Melbourne Loop to gain a position. Sykes was able to take ninth with Australian rider Remy Garner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) rounding out the top ten; 13 seconds down on the BMW pair. The #66’s ninth place meant he now has 266 top-ten WorldSBK finishes to his name.
IN THE POINTS: late-race battles for the lower range of the points
2021 Moto2™ World Champion Gardner had to fend off a charging Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) to secure a place in the top ten with just 0.106s separating the Australian and Vierge. Two-time WorldSSP Champion Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) took 12th but he had drama on the final lap of the race. He ran into the gravel at Turn 8, the right-hander of Coppice, and lost time but recovered to finish less than a second ahead of Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) after the Italian battled back from the back of the field. Rinaldi ran wide at Coppice on the opening lap, but he was able to fight back to finish in 13th for. The #21 was 21 seconds clear of Lorenzo Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha) in 14th with Isaac Vinales (TPR by Team Pedercini Racing) completing the points-paying positions with 15th; his best result of the season and his first points of 2023.
Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) narrowly missed out on a point as he finished in 16th place as he finished ahead of Hafizh Syahrin (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) in 17th. Czech rider Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing MOVISIO) finished 18th on his return from injury with Eric Granado (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) the last of the classified riders.
HOUSEKEEPING: Ray’s home race ends in the gravel, late drama for Lecuona and Oettl
Home hero Bradley Ray’s (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) race came to an early end after he crashed out after contact with American star Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW). Gerloff was able to return from the gravel but brought his M1000RR machine into the pits. He did return to the track a few laps down but retired later on. The incident was investigated by the FIM Stewards with no further action taken. Gerloff’s teammate Loris Baz also retired from the race when he had a technical problem with his machine in the opening stages.
Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) crashed out at the Old Hairpin, the right-hander at Turn 4, on the penultimate lap which forced him out of the race. He was taken to the medical centre for a check-up following the crash and declared fit following his check. Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) was a last-lap retirement after he stopped with a technical problem.
The top six from WorldSBK Race 1, full results here:
1. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)
2. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) +3.718s
3. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +6.115s
4. Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) +7.855s
5. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) +10.738s
6. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +11.143s
Fastest lap: Alvaro Bautista, Ducati – 1’26.550 (New Lap Record)
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