The final race of the weekend for the Superbike World Championship followed in the same vein as its two predecessors: a dominant winner, with a brilliant fight behind for second place.
Surprisingly, Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) was able to make the holeshot in race three of the weekend, despite Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) starting alongside him on the front row of the grid. Both of them got good launches, but some wheelie for Rea meant it was Bautista who got to turn one first, and as per the standard of the season, by the end of the first lap the Spaniard was out of reach.
Behind, a battle formed Rea, Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK) and Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati). Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK) was also there in the beginning, although in the end he dropped back, and his place was taken in the train by Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK).
The four of Rea, Lowes, Davies and Haslam eventually worked themselves a gap to those behind, initially led by an impressive Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) and then by Eugene Laverty (Team GoEleven) who was unable to close the gap down, which was a surprise after his strong performance on Saturday. Maybe the #50 benefited from the broken winglet.
Between them, the quartet fighting for the final two spots on the rostrum had a fantastic fight. Throughout, though, there was a fair assumption to be made that it was Rea who had the advantage. Davies is still not comfortable with the new V4R, evidenced by his plethora of errors in every race this weekend, despite his good performances and results, and this was mentioned by Rea in parc ferme. In addition, Alex Lowes had been struggling for tyre consumption all weekend and a group battle with three other riders is not conducive to gentle riding that conserves the tyres. Finally, Leon Haslam was still suffering with his wounded ankle.
In that sense, it should be no surprise that it was Rea who came away with his ninth second place from nine races in 2019. However, considering the Northern Irishman had a less-than-perfect weekend, and struggled somewhat for setup, a third runners-up spot out of three is a good return for the four-times World Champion.
Third place in the end went to Chaz Davies, who might have had a better chance at second place had he not run wide in turn one on the final lap, allowing Rea through. That mistake was one of many throughout the weekend which prove there is still a lot of work for the Welshman to do with the new Ducati before he is comfortable with it. So, in that way, to end the weekend with two podiums and three top fours is a good positive for #7.
That left Leon Haslam just off the podium in fourth. Not only the result, but also his competitiveness throughout the race was something of a salvation for his weekend which was blighted by injury, a poor qualifying and a bad start in race one.
Alex Lowes came home in fifth place, again running out of tyre in the closing stages. However, the Englishman proved this weekend that Thailand was not a fluke, and that the Yamaha genuinely has the potential to compete with Rea and Kawasaki on a regular basis this season, which is a good sign for the Iwata marque.
Eugene Laverty came home in sixth place for the top ‘independent’ spot, one second ahead of the massively impressive Jordi Torres in seventh. Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK) paid for the poor grid position he received for the final race of the weekend courtesy of being caught up in Michael Ruben Rinaldi’s (BARNI Racing Team) crash at turn one in the Superpole race, and finished eighth, ahead of the aforementioned Rinaldi and Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) who completed the top ten.
Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) ended his torrid weekend with an eleventh, ahead of Tom Sykes who plummeted down the order after a good opening to the race. Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) finished in thirteenth, ahead of Ryuichi Kiyonari (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) and Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK) who was the final points scorer and final finisher in fifteenth.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) was the first retirement eleven laps from the flag, and was joined on the side-lines only by Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team) three laps later.
Featured image courtesy of Ducati