Bautista overcomes grid drop to claim Assen Race 1 victory after battling Rea and Razgatlioglu
There was no shortage of thrilling action in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship at the iconic TT Circuit Assen in Race 1 during the Pirelli Dutch Round as Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) claimed a hard-fought victory in the Netherlands. He overcame his rivals and a three-place grid drop to fight his way from fourth place on the grid to finish ahead of Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in the 21-lap race.
Bautista was given a three-place grid drop for the Race 1 grid for slow riding on the racing line in the Tissot Superpole session, which dropped him from pole position to fourth place. He was into the top three from the start before fighting with Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) who passed him into the chicane on the opening lap. Bautista was able to respond at Turn 1 to move back into the top three, before he started chasing down Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK).
Razgatlioglu was running in second place and looked to close down Rea to put a bike between him and Bautista but the reigning Champion overtook Razgatlioglu at the chicane on Lap 5 to move into second place, before moving into the lead on Lap 9 when he overtook Rea at the high-speed right-hander of Turn 6 to move into the lead. Although Rea tried to keep the pressure on Bautista, the Spanish rider pulled a gap on the six-time Champion with the trio setting into their respective positions.
Bautista’s victory was his 38th WorldSBK win and puts Ducati on 398 in WorldSBK with the Italian manufacturer just two away from a milestone 400th victory. It was also Ducati’s 698th race on the podium, meaning they could hit 400 wins and 700 races on the podium in the same race. Rea’s second place was his 247th in WorldSBK, as well as his 24th at Assen which puts the track level with Aragon and Portimao.
Fourth place went to a charging Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) after he moved up the order. He had been running in seventh place, behind Lowes, Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) and Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) but, as the laps progressed, he made his way up the order. Locatelli made a move on Lowes at Turn 5 on Lap 15 before following that up two laps later by overtaking Redding. He closed the gap to Bassani and overtook him on the last lap to claim fourth spot; continuing his record of not finishing outside the top five in 2023 and at the TT Circuit Assen. Bassani was fifth at the end of the race, ahead of Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), who passed Lowes and Redding in the closing stages, in sixth.
Lowes claimed seventh place at the end of the race, just over a tenth behind Aegerter, while Aegerter’s teammate, Remy Gardner, was eighth after a strong Race 1 for the Independent Yamaha team. Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) was another who made moves late on in the race as he claimed ninth place with Redding eventually finish in tenth. Redding had been fighting for fourth in the early stages of the 21-lap race but he fell down the order in the closing stages of the 21-lap race, finishing 0.259s behind Petrucci.
Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) was 11th after he bounced back from an incident with Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) where Vierge ran wide at the chicane and lost positions when Rinaldi overtook him. Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW), like a lot of riders, made moves in the latter stages of the race as he took 12th place; finishing just 0.187s ahead of Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK) in 13th. Two Ducati riders completed the points-paying positions with Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) in 14th and Rinaldi in 15th.
Lorenzo Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha) finished in 16th place after a late-race battle with French rider Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW), with Baz making his return from injury. Rookie Bradley Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) was 18th in his first race for Yamaha although he was fighting in the points during the early stages of the race. Hafizh Syahrin (PETRONAS MIE Racing HONDA Team) was 19th ahead of Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing MOVISIO), Eric Granado (PETRONAS MIE Racing HONDA Team), wildcard Gabriele Ruiu (Bmax Racing) and Isaac Vinales (TPR by Vinales Racing) in 23rd.
Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) was the first retirement of the race when he crashed out at Turn 1 on Lap 6, forcing him to retire from the race. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) retired after bringing his bike back to the pitlane after he suffered a technical issue.