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WORLD SUPERBIKES

Bautista powers to victory on home soil

Race One

Alvaro Bautista has maintained his 100% winning start to the 2019 World Superbike championship by skating clear of an almighty battle for second place which was won by Jonathan Rea from Chaz Davies. Pole-sitter Bautista bolted ahead of his rivals at around one second per lap to make his victory charge effectively a non-contest, but the fight for second place raged on the entire race with Rea escaping a final-lap fight from Davies and Eugene Laverty.
With the Ducati riders looking to line-up a back straight sprint on the final lap against Rea on the Kawasaki, Laverty appeared to clip the rear of Davies which sent the Team Go Eleven Ducati rider wide and off track and in the process allowed the reigning world champion to keep hold of second place ahead of Davies.

As Laverty suffered more cruel luck, following his scary brake failure in Thailand, Alex Lowes was promoted to fourth place for Pata Yamaha having been involved in the podium fight until the final few laps. Tom Sykes put up a stellar effort on the underpowered BMW to take fifth place ahead of Pata Yamaha’s Michael van der Mark and front-row starter Sandro Cortese on the GRT Yamaha. Puccetti Kawasaki’s Toprak Razgatlioglu recovered from a poor qualifying to carve up the order to eighth place ahead of the factory Kawasaki of Leon Haslam. Jordi Torres claimed a top 10 at his home track for Pedercini Kawasaki comfortably ahead of leading Honda Leon Camier who is nursing a knee injury sustained last time out in Thailand.

Marco Melandri had a disappointing race for GRT Yamaha down in 12th place ahead of Barni Ducati’s Michael Ruben Rinaldi and Honda’s Ryuichi Kiyonari, while Laverty remounted to take the final point in 15th place. The race had a hectic start with Markus Reiterberger lining up in the wrong grid slot before clashing with Rea to send the German off before the first turn. Leandro Mercado and Alessandro Delbianco also went off on the opening lap in a separate clash.

Race Two

The final WorldSBK race of the weekend continued to provide action and entertainment from lap one, with hard passes and an exciting battle taking place. Out in the lead of the race once more, Alvaro Bautista took his ninth consecutive race win to equal 2003 WorldSBK champion Neil Hodgson in winning the opening nine races of the season, as well as giving Ducati their 350th WorldSBK win. Bautista took the advantage from pole position, seeing-off Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) into Turn 1. For the first time in the weekend in the blue-riband class, everyone made their way through the opening corners safely and without drama. Chaz Davies was an early improver and up to third place, whilst Alex Lowes was a strong fourth despite dropping back. Tom Sykes wasn’t the fastest starter and dropped back, allowing a rapid-starting Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) and Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) to get in close proximity. A move made by Davies at Turn 7 on lap two to get ahead of Rea and pushed the reigning four-time champion back into the jaws of the chasing pack. An action-packed second lap saw passes galore, with Tom Sykes making an error at Turn 12 and seeing Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team) and Jordi Torres pass through – Torres now sixth from eighth on the grid, one of the strongest showings in WorldSBK by the Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki.

Alex Lowes was starting his comeback through the order, up to third position at Turn 1, ahead of Rea, who was starting to look vulnerable. Rea was now down in fourth and his teammate, Leon Haslam, was closing him down too. Behind this squabble over second position, Eugene Laverty was closing too, having disposed of Spanish home-hero Torres. On lap eight, Davies began to pull away and put some distance in between himself and Lowes. Rea ran wide and took teammate Haslam with him; the Kawasaki riders were not looking like they were going to be able to mount a podium challenge. Lowes challenged Davies but was not able to make a pass. Further down the order, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) retired. With Laverty dropping back from the battle for second and not able to initiate a challenge for the podium, Rea was starting his own resurgence, passing Lowes at Turn 7 but Lowes was able to get back ahead at Turn 8. Rea eventually made the move stick at Turn 12, dispatching of Lowes and soon setting off after Davies, who was escaping. Two laps later, and Haslam made his way passed Lowes at Turn 1, pursuing his teammate and Davies in second. Lowes would remain in fifth, firmly planted and on his way to a tenth consecutive top five placing.

Sixth saw Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) ahead of Jordi Tores (Pedercini Racing) and Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha) with Michael Rinaldi (Barni Racing) and Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha) rounding out the top ten.

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