#AUSWorldSBK Sunday roundup: World Superbike
There was drama through Race 2 in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship during the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round at the iconic Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit as Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) made history with his fifth WorldSBK hat-trick in commanding fashion ahead of his teammate, while Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK Team) could only manage eighth place as Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) didn’t score points in Race 2.
Reigning Champion Bautista led from the start and he was able to bring teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi with him in the early stages of the 22-lap encounter with the pair separated by less than a second for the first few laps, before Bautista started pulling a gap to his teammate to win by more than six seconds ahead of his teammate for the second Ducati 1-2 of the day in WorldSBK following their Tissot Superpole Result.
Bautista’s hat-trick means he became the first rider to take a second hat-trick at one circuit following his 2019 triple while he also became the first rider to take five WorldSBK hat-tricks. It was also his eighth win at ‘The Island’, making him the most successful rider at the circuit. In terms of his career, it was his 61st WorldSBK podium and Ducati’s 395th win in WorldSBK. For Rinaldi, he claimed his 16th WorldSBK podium.
Behind the two Ducati riders, Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) claimed his first podium of the season with third place after taking third spot which he claimed from the start of the race as the Italian pulled away from the chasing group. Third place for Locatelli gave him his seventh career podium, putting him 54th in the all-time list for podium finishes. It was his best Phillip Island finish in WorldSBK, having taken fourth or fifth place in his previous five races.
The battle behind the podium trio was a 22-lap affair with Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) holding on for fourth after starting from ninth on the grid as he fended off a late challenge from Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) in fifth. The pair did have a gap behind them at the end of the race but that did not tell the full story of the battle which featured several riders including 2021 Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) and six-time Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK).
Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) was able to fight his way up to sixth place behind Oettl and Bassani while double WorldSSP Champion Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was seventh after starting tenth on the grid. Aegerter and Lecuona both made late-race moves on Rea to demote the Ulsterman to the order to eighth place, while it was a disastrous ending to the race for Razgatlioglu and Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK).
Both were involved in the mega battle for fourth and Razgatlioglu looked to make a move around the outside of Lowes heading into Turn 4 on Lap 17. Lowes lost the front of his ZX-10RR machine heading into Miller Corner, the right-hand hairpin, which collected Razgatlioglu. Both were forced to retire from the race following the crash, costing them valuable points early on in the season.
Rea ended the race with an almost four-second gap to Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) in ninth place as he ended his first WorldSBK round inside the top ten. This also applied to Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) who ended the race in tenth despite a Long Lap Penalty for irresponsible riding in the Tissot Superpole Race after a crash with teammate Aegerter. He had crossed the line in 11th place but Xavi Vierge (Team HRC), who had taken the chequered flag in tenth, was demoted one place for overtaking under yellow flags which demoted him to 11th.
12th place down to 15th were rounded out by the four BMW riders on the grid. Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was 12th, more than eight seconds down on Vierge, while teammate Scott Redding was 13th and more than four seconds down on his Dutch teammate. Redding had to fend off the two Independent BMW riders with the trio separated by half-a-second at the end of the race. Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) was 14th, 0.179s down on Redding, while teammate Loris Baz was 15th and a further 0.402s back.
Lorenzo Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha) finished his debut WorldSBK weekend in 16th place, ten seconds down on Baz in 15th place. Malaysian rider Hafizh Syahrin (PETRONAS MIE Racing HONDA Team) was 17th ahead of Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing MOVISIO) in 18th and Eric Granado (PETRONAS MIE Racing HONDA Team) in 19th with the Brazilian finishing as the last classified rider.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was the first retirement of the race after he crashed out at Turn 11 on Lap 8. Sykes was two laps down after he brought his bike into the pit lane in the early stages of the race and crashed shortly after re-joining.