WorldSBK: Rea Dominates Donington Race 1 and Takes Points Lead, Bautista Crashes

Despite a good forecast for the weekend, the first race of the eighth round of the 2019 Superbike World Championship was met with rain.

The battle for the win was a simple one, and one which lasted the length of the run to turn one, as Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) made the holeshot and was from then on uncatchable. It was a dominant performance from the reigning World Champion who took his seventy-sixth WSBK win and – thanks also to a crash from Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) – the championship lead for the first time in 2019 as he leads Bautista by nine points going into Sunday’s two races.

Alvaro Bautista at 2019 WSBK Donington Park race one. Image courtesy of Ducati

Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK) had been suffering with the flu through the weekend, but slotted into second place at turn one when Rea took the lead. Behind Sykes was Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) who initially looked to try to pass the BMW rider, but eventually fell back into his own ‘cold war’ with Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha). None of these three riders changed position between turn one and the flag, with Sykes taking his second podium with BMW, and Haslam his fifth of the season. Baz, on the other hand, took the top ‘independent’ position with fourth place, as well as the honour of top Yamaha rider.

The next YZF-R1 pilot was seven seconds behind Baz, as Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK) completed a lonely second part of the race after he inherited fifth from Bautista when the Spaniard – with whom Lowes had been battling and trading times since almost the start of the race – crashed out.

Sixth place went to Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) who took his best finish of the season and was the top ‘independent’ Kawasaki. The Argentinian had a battle in the mid-race with Peter Hickman who is in this weekend for the ill Markus Reiterberger at BMW Motorrad WorldSBK, but when Mercado was able to string some laps together he was able to break Hickman by thirteen seconds at the flag. Hickman in seventh place was the last rider within sixty seconds of Rea (with some favourable rounding), representing how spread out the race was and the dominance of Rea in the wet conditions.

Michael van der Mark at the 2019 WSBK Race one at Donington Park. Image courtesy of Yamaha Racing

Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK) took eighth place only ten days after the surgery on his broken wrist, whilst Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team) – who went off at Craner Curves twice in two laps – took ninth and Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) was the top Ducati in tenth.

Ryuichi Kiyonari (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) was eleventh after he picked up speed from mid-race onwards to come from the back. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) struggled, like Davies, with the V4R in wet conditions and spent most of the race fighting with Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) for last, although was able to break away and also pass Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) for twelfth. Razgatlioglu had a tough race and took thirteenth, whilst Melandri was lapped by Rea on the Northern Irishman’s final tour and finished fourteenth and last of the finishers.

Normally, with only fourteen finishers the number of retirements is big. However, the field was only seventeen-strong to begin with, so only three retired: Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) and the aforementioned Bautista who relinquished his points lead for the first time this year.

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