Race one for the sixth round of the 2019 Superbike World Championship took place in Jerez, as the series reverted to type after the double of Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in Imola, as Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) returned to the top step in his home round.
Jonathan Rea made the holeshot from pole position, his first pole in Jerez, but it took Bautista all of five corners to pass the reigning champion. After this, despite the best efforts of Rea, the Spaniard could not be caught.
Soon, Rea had the attentions of the two Pata Yamaha WorldSBK riders, Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes, to deal with. Van der Mark did not take long to move through on the Kawasaki rider. Trying to go with the Dutchman, Rea lost the front at turn two which allowed Lowes through.
Rea was back at turn six after Lowes had a big slide in T5, and this let van der Mark escape. However, there was no separating Lowes and Rea, who swapped positions multiple times in the final ten laps, and the battle went down to the final corner. Lowes defended the line well, but Rea cut back to the inside, clipping Lowes’ left hand and taking away the bar. Lowes lost the front and his left glove, and looked to be in pain with his left hand. Rea was apologetic when he returned to the pit but, understandably, the Yamaha team was uninterested in the reigning champion’s consolation. The incident was investigated after the race but no punishment was handed the way of the Northern Irishman.
Either way, no one could get near Bautista who, once again, destroyed the field with his Panigale V4R. After missing the top step in both races in Imola, it was the perfect way for the #19 to bounce back in his home round.
The ride of van der Mark, from seventh on the grid, was fantastic. He scythed through the pack in the early laps, dealt with his teammate early on, then dragged Lowes up to Rea. Once he was past the World Champion, van der Mark proved superior to all but Bautista out front.
Third place for Rea was fortunate, as he didn’t have the tyre for it. Either way, out of a difficult race where he had a poor feeling with the front, Rea comes away with yet another podium, one which equals the record of Colin Edwards for consecutive podiums, as he took his twenty-fifth in a row. Perhaps, though, this is not one that Rea will want to remember, and he certainly was not celebrating it on the podium.
Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) has been back on form this weekend after missing confidence in his Yamaha R1 since his podium in Australia. Fourth place, and nineteen seconds off the win is perhaps not precisely where Melandri wants to be, but it represents a step forward from where he has been since the first round, and it gave him the top ‘independent’ award.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) completed the top five, having come out second best of a race-long battle with Melandri.
Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK) took sixth, ahead of a struggling Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing Ducati). Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) was eighth, ahead of Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing) who completed the top ten.
Eleventh went to Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK) ahead of the returnees, Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha) and Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura). Eugene Laverty’s replacement at Team Goeleven, Tommy Bridewell, was fourteenth, whilst Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team) was the top Honda in fifteenth, taking the final point.
After his incident in the final corner, Lowes got back on his YZF-R1 to finish sixteenth, ahead of his 2013 teammate at Samsung Honda in BSB, Ryuichi Kiyonari (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) who was seventeenth and last on his first ever race in Jerez.
WorldSBK debutant, and replacement for Leon Camier at the Moriwaki Althea Honda Team, Yuki Takahashi, was the first retirement, crashing out unharmed at turn one. Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) was the only other retirement, as he came back into the pits on lap fifteen.
Featured image courtesy of Ducati