The Superpole race from the sixth round of the 2019 Superbike World Championship saw Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) starting from pole position as retrospective penalties for Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) after the first race of the weekend saw him start from last in the sprint race.
That meant there was a great race in prospect, with Rea fighting through from the back, whilst the riders starting from the front would be fighting hard for the crucial top nine positions for the race two grid.
Rea was quick to come through the pack, and was in the top ten from nineteenth after the first two laps, while Bautista had cleared off out the front after converting his pole position to a holeshot. At the same time, Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) made a good start, launching ahead of Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK) off the line, and making good his case for a second top-three of the weekend, pulling away from the rest of the pack as they fought behind.
One of those fights was between the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK riders of Lowes and Michael van der Mark, with the two exchanging positions on several occasions in the opening lap. Van der Mark was eventually able to establish himself in fourth place ahead of Lowes after the pair overcame Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK), and not long after the battle came to a close courtesy of a crash for the 2013 BSB champion.
Lowes’ crash promoted Rea to sixth place, which he soon turned to fifth by passing Sykes, and then fourth by overtaking his teammate, Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), just five corners later.
At the same time, van der Mark was closing on Melandri ahead in an all-Yamaha battle for second. Rea was no faster than either of the Yamaha riders ahead of him, so was in need of a battle between the Dutchman and the Italian.
Unfortunately for the reigning World Champion that battle never arose between Melandri and van der Mark, as the #33 was not able to retaliate when van der Mark made his move.
Once again, though, no one could touch Bautista out front, who won by 2.743 seconds over the ten laps. With Rea finishing in fourth, it was a six-point increase to Bautista’s championship advantage, which now stands at sixty-one points.
It was another strong performance from van der Mark to finish second, his second top two of the weekend. There were some strong moves from the Dutchman in the early laps, but once he smoothed himself out it was almost inevitable that he would end up second.
This is in spite of another strong ride by Marco Melandri, who continues his turnaround from the last few races where he has been seen to struggle a lot. Finishing ahead of Jonathan Rea on merit is testament to that.
For Rea himself, fourth place is perhaps as much as he could have hoped for, considering the strength of the Yamaha in Jerez this weekend, an it was another exceptional comeback from a lowly grid position for the four-times champion.
Tom Sykes’ gamble on the SCX tyre was enough to hold off Leon Haslam to round out the top five, whilst Haslam took sixth place ahead of Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing); Jordi Torres who is continuing his exceptional weekend for Team Pedercini Racing; Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) and Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) who completed the top ten despite making a step forward in morning warm up, in which he was fourth fastest.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing) took eleventh place, ahead of Tommy Bridewell (Team Goeleven) who made steps, like Davies, in warm up. It was Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) in thirteenth, ahead of Yuki Takahashi (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) and Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK) who completed the top fifteen. Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team) was sixteenth ahead of Ryuichi Kiyonari (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) who was the last of the seventeen finishers.
Loris Baz (Ten Kata Racing – Yamaha) started from pit lane, and was out by the end of lap one, whilst Lowes crashed on lap four of the Superpole race, leaving his team some work to do before the second full length race of the weekend.
Featured Image courtesy of Ducati