The second race in the sixth round of the 2019 Superbike World Championship was a lively one to begin with, with strong fighting in the opening laps, before the pack stretched out and Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK) proved a dominant winner for the first time in 2019.
It was Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) who made the holeshot but, as in the Saturday race, Bautista was through at turn five. It was expected at this point that, as per usual, Bautista would disappear. However, the Spaniard went on to make his first mistake in a race of the year, crashing out early on at turn one. He got the bike back to the pits and, eventually, back out into the race, but was unable to score points.
This presented a golden opportunity for Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) to take some points out of the championship lead of Bautista, which was forty-three points before the weekend. Ordinarily, the absence of Bautista would see Rea win, but Michael van der Mark had other ideas. After struggling to pass Rea for a number of laps the Dutchman managed to secure a lead. Rea hung on for several laps, but with six to go van der Mark started to pull away from the reigning champion.
The race was then cut short by a red flag for a crash for Ryuichi Kiyonari (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team). The crash brought gravel onto the track, which was deemed to unsafe by race direction. Since there were only two laps to go, the result was declared, and van der Mark declared the winner. Although he was unable to be strong in Superpole on Saturday, van der Mark’s race pace was strong all weekend, second only to Bautista. The mistake from Bautista gave van der Mark the opportunity, which he took with a dominant performance.
The second place of Rea was an important one with the non-scoring ride of Bautista. Unusually, Rea was unable to fight for the victory in Bautista’s absence, but van der Mark was simply too fast. Anyway, the reigning champion ended the weekend two points closer to Bautista than where he began it, which seemed unlikely on Saturday.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) took his third career WorldSBK podium. He was with Rea and van der Mark when Bautista went down, but was unable to live with their pace when van der Mark started to push on. Nonetheless, it was a strong result for the Turk, and shows his rostrum in Imola was not a fluke.
It was a strong ride for Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing) who scored his best result in WorldSBK in fourth, ahead of Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) who complered the top five. Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) was sixth ahead of Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK), Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing), Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha) who took the first top ten since his return to WSBK, and Tommy Bridewell (Team Goeleven) who completed the top ten.
Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) was eleventh, ahead of Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK), Yuki Takahashi (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) who scored his first WSBK points, and Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK) who was the final finisher in fourteenth, two laps down thanks to a crash on lap one at turn two.
Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) and Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) came to blows on lap five, when the Italian tried to use the superior mid-corner performance of the R1 to pass Davies in turn five. However, he didn’t get the move done, made contact with the Ducati rider and took them both down. Davies was out on the spot, whilst Melandri get his bike back to the pits, although he didn’t get back out. Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team) saw his race end on lap seven, whilst Bautista was only able to complete nine laps despite getting back out on track after his crash. Ryuichi Kiyonari was okay after his turn eleven crash which caused the race-ending red flag.
Featured Image courtesy Yamaha Racing