The sunny conditions of Superpole were replaced with the rain of Saturday morning for race one of the seventh round of the Superbike World Championship in Misano.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) made the holeshot from pole position, whilst Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK) made good progress from row two and was second as the field hit the back straight out of turn six for the first time.
Lowes soon took the lead, but one lap later the race was red flagged. This red flag was the second of the day after the start was delayed on the first warm up lap.
The rain soon cleared and the track dried quickly. Lowes started from pole position but it was once again Rea who made the holeshot. Lowes dropped back to third place behind Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK), but was able to move back up to second place.
Whilst Lowes was behind Rea, the pair were able to move away from the field quite considerably. No one could get much within one second of their pace. Additionally, the proximity of the two on track gave a good indication of their contrasting riding styles, and the contrasting characteristics of their bikes, as Rea and the Kawasaki were faster in the middle of the lap, which is quite stop-start, whereas Lowes had a significant advantage in the first part of the lap which is all about corner speed and flow.
Once Lowes got past Rea with a move done at turn seven as the race approached half distance, he was able to stretch the World Champion and pull clear. However, just as the Yamaha rider’s advantage edged out to 1.5 seconds, he crashed at the fastest corner of the year – Curvone – and his chance of a race win was over. After losing Michael van der Mark to injury yesterday, all of the hopes of the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK squad were pinned on Lowes, and now he too was out.
? @jonathanrea masters Misano!@KRT_WorldSBK rider wins a crazy Race 1 in the rain ahead of @TheRealTomSykes and @19Bautista!#RiminiWorldSBK?? pic.twitter.com/h9onfQnDde
— WorldSBK (@WorldSBK) June 22, 2019
That left Rea in a fairly comfortable position, with Sykes far behind on the BMW, and no faster than the four-times WSBK champion.
Sykes, too, was lapping alone, but behind things were getting interesting for the final podium spot.
Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) held fourth place for much of the race, and this became third when Lowes crashed. The Welshman struggled to match the pace of Sykes, but was able to keep the riders behind him at bay.
Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was able to pass the #7 rider eventually, though. But the reigning BSB champion’s podium hopes were ended when he crashed in turn eight, allowing Davies back into third.
Davies gave up the final rostrum position soon after, though, when he let teammate Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) through at turn five.
This was followed by some significant time loss for Davies, who also dropped behind Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha) and into fifth. Davies’ pace picked up again towards the end of the race, but it was not enough to improve from his fifth position.
At the front, Rea was untouchable after the crash of Lowes, and recorded his third win of the season and cut his deficit in the points standings to Bautista to thirty-two points. It was a remarkable performance from Rea who, although known for his prowess in damp conditions, had not ridden in the morning’s FP3 session, which was the only wet track time of the weekend for the WSBK riders before the race, after a dry Friday and scorching Superpole. To win by such a margin with little experience of the track in those conditions compared to his rivals was both impressive and important, as the Northern Irishman needed to take advantage of his title rival’s lack of pace.
Indeed, Bautista was able to take third place, meaning that of the races he has finished in WorldSBK Bautista has visited the podium after each one of them. Bautista had dropped as low as sixth in the race, but took advantage of others’ falls and misfortune to arrive on the podium and complete a quite strong damage limitation job. The Spaniard will be hoping for dry conditions on Sunday, ones in which he will hope to have the potential to take the fight to Rea.
Between the two title rivals were 7.756 seconds and Tom Sykes, who took his first podium of 2019 and the first for BMW, since their full-time return at the beginning of the year. It was a lonely race for Sykes, who was not strong enough to go with Rea and Lowes at the start, but was faster and more consistent than those behind him. In conditions where the other bikes cannot make use of their power advantage compared to the BMW, the S1000RR’s chassis can negate its motor disadvantage, and Sykes was able to make the most of that for this third place.
Loris Baz was the top ‘independent’ rider for Ten Kate, who were able to finish fourth in their fourth race with Yamaha, and their fourth of the season. Before Bautista got into third place, Baz was closing on the championship leader, but towards the end the Spaniard’s pace picked up. With the retirement of Lowes and the absence of van der Mark, this fourth place was also an important one for Yamaha in the constructor standings.
Chaz Davies finished fifth in what was a strange race for the Ducati rider, with his pace dropping off strangely in the middle of the race. But, with Haslam crashing out, Davies’ fifth in conjunction with Bautista’s third place means that the ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati team extends its lead at the top of the Teams’ Championship over KRT by two points.
Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) has a six-place grid penalty for the Superpole Race on Sunday morning, so he had to maximise this first race of the weekend. Unfortunately for the Italian, he ran on in turn eight early on, and his recovery only got him as far as sixth place, ahead of teammate Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK). Yuki Takahashi (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) took Honda’s best result of the year in eighth, ahead of Eugene Laverty’s new replacement at Team Goeleven, Lorenzo Zanetti. Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) completed the top ten.
Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team) was in seventh place with five laps to go but ended up eleventh ahead of Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing), wildcard Samuele Cavalieri (Motocorsa Racing), Ryuichi Kiyonari (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) and Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK) who was the final finisher in fifteenth and took the final point.
Wildcard Dominic Schmitter (IXS Racing powered by YART) was the first retirement on lap eight, the same lap as Lowes crashed out of the lead. Moments after Lowes went down at turn eleven, wildcard Michele Pirro (BARNI Racing Team) crashed out at the same point. Michael Ruben Rinaldi dropped his BARNI Racing Team Ducati two laps after Lowes, Schmitter and Pirro went down and two laps before Haslam crashed the factory Kawasaki. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) went down on the final lap out of eighth place.