A Rea-Marc-Able Career

Two separate careers to be precise, and what careers they have been.

With a total of 14 World championships between them, Jonathan Rea 6x WSBK champion, and Marc Marquez 6x MotoGP World Champion, as well as both 125cc, and 250cc champions. Both riders have their upcoming birthdays next month in February, with Jonny turning 37, and Marc turning 31. Now in the twilight years of their respective careers, they both still feel they have a point to prove, and perhaps, also prove a few critics and naysayers wrong.

Jonathan Rea – Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

The end of the 2023 season saw an emotional Rea walk away from the Kawasaki Racing Team, an incredibly long partnership that saw him dominate many seasons and claim 6x World titles, becoming arguably their best WSBK rider. The struggles of the Kawasaki team over the past few seasons were well documented and a frustrated Rea could do no more than look on in envy at the sheer flawless nature of Alvaro Bautista’s wins on the Aruba.it Racing Ducati, which saw the Spaniard claim back-to-back championships.

Prior to the Ducati dominance in both WSBK and MotoGP,  2021 was the year of Yamaha, with both Toprak Razgatlioglu on the R1, and Fabio Quartararo on the M1 claiming their respective world championship crowns. In WSBK that year Toprak was a joy to watch, pushing the R1 to its absolute limits. Rea however, was once again left frustrated with the performance of the Kawasaki, only managing to finish runner up.

There was a time when Marc Marquez was considered unstoppable on the Repsol Honda RC213V, dominating his rivals and racking up incredible statistics in the process. His 2019 winning season and 6th overall in the premier class, was testament to the absolute insane level of skill he possessed at that time. He won 12 races and finished on the podium in 18 out of 19 rounds, amassing an eye watering 420 points, which was also a points record at that time. Not to mention beating riders like Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, and Andrea Dovizioso in the process.

Sadly, subsequent seasons have seen Marc suffer virtually career ending injuries, with many speculating that he’d never return. The fact that he did return, albeit on an under-performing Honda, speaks volumes about his mental resilience and sheer unquenchable desire to continue riding and return to winning ways.

2023 was not a happy season for Marc and saw him crash a total of 29 times, the most out of any rider across all the classes in MotoGP, according to the MotoGP falls report, published by Dorna media officer, Frine Velilla. That was a figure he himself had not got close to since the season of 2017, where he crashed 27 times.  Similar to Jonathan Rea, a disconsolate Marc could do no more then look on as Francesco Bagnaia, rode his Ducati to back-to-back championships.

Marc Marquez – Picture courtesy of Honda Racing Racing Global

As the curtain closed on the 2023 season, both Rea and Marc walked away from their respective teams, buying their way out of lucrative contracts in the process. Rea secured a ride with the Pata Prometeon Yamaha WSBK Team onboard the R1, while Marc, will be joining his brother Alex in the Gresini Racing Team onboard the Ducati.

As race fans eagerly anticipate the start of the 2024 season, the fact that these two legends of motorcycle racing are still racing, is an absolute bonus to the sport, as well as a credit to the resilience of each of their own characters and the determination to succeed, continuing to push onwards for the next taste of race winning glory.

 

Round 12 WorldSBK, Jerez, Spain, Race 2

The earlier Superpole race saw Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing Ducati), claim his 2nd win of the weekend, could the newly crowned champion make it a treble to close out the season in style?

Round 12 WorldSBK Jerez, Spain 29.10.2023 Picture courtesy of WorldSBK

Lights out for the last time this season and its Bautista with the hole shot into turn 1, followed by Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) who immediately attacked and passed to take over the lead. Bautista 2nd,  Toprak (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) 3rd, Aegerter (GYRT GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 4th, and Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) 5th.

Next lap of the 20 lap race and positions were as follows: 1. Rea 2. Toprak 3. Bautista 4. Aegerter 5. Locatelli 6. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing Ducati) 7. Gardner (GYRT GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 8. Redding (Rokit BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) 9. Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing) 10. Bassani (Motocorsa Racing).

With 18 laps remaining, Rea was looking quick out in the lead, and was trying to end his Kawasaki career on a high, he held a gap of 0.7s to Toprak who then posted the new fastest lap with a 1:39.871.

Next lap and both Rea, and Toprak had got away from the rest, with Bautista in 3rd barely just hanging onto the back, such was the pace being set by Rea, who went on to set the new fastest lap with a 1:39.744. Further back Remi Gardner went through on Locatelli into turn 9 to move up to 6th.

With 16 laps to go, drama for Rea who lost the front end into the tight turn 2, it was a slow enough crash, and he was able to pick the bike up and rejoin at the back of the field. A disappointing way to end his 9 year career with Kawasaki, as he had been looking so good up until that point. Positions were as follows: 1. Toprak 2. Bautista 3. Aegerter.

With 14 laps left, Toprak was making the most of his newly acquired lead and held a gap of 0.9s to Bautista behind.

Approaching half race distance and as has been the story all season long, once the fuel levels have reduced, and his tyres have been managed, Bautista starts to post faster lap times. This was the case again, and he was reeling in Toprak lap by lap, with the gap cut down to 0.3s.

Just at half race distance and Bautista lined up a move on Toprak out of the straight, and into turn 1, Toprak successfully defended. Meanwhile the battle up front had allowed both Aegerter, and Rinaldi to close in on the leading pair.

Next lap of the 20 lap race and positions were as follows: 1. Toprak 2. Bautista 3. Aegerter 4. Rinaldi 5. Gardner 6. Petrucci 7. Locatelli 8. Redding 9. Oettl (GoEleven Ducati) 10. Bassani.

Meanwhile at the front, Bautista continued his assault on the Yamaha R1, this time with a rehearsed block pass into the final corner, but could not make it stick, and Toprak retained the lead.

Next lap and this time Bautista does take the lead with a superb cut pass under Toprak.

Round 12 WorldSBK Jerez, Spain 29.10.2023 Picture courtesy of WorldSBK

With 7 laps remaining, and with shades of the amazing battle between the two at Portimao, the lead was once again being swapped multiple times, this was shaping up to be another intense fight to victory between the two champions.

Next lap and Toprak ripped the lead back, before Bautista cut under Toprak into turn 5 to retake the lead. The intense battle for the lead had now allowed both Gardner, and Petrucci to join the melee, and the group at the front was now made up of 6 quality riders. Toprak back into the lead before the start of lap 5.

With only 4 laps left Toprak was still defending his lead. Meanwhile further back a mistake from Rinaldi, meant he dropped several positions down to 6th. Bautista 2nd, Aegerter 3rd, Gardner 4th, Petrucci 5th.

Onto the final 3 laps and Gardner was now losing contact with the trio ahead of him, such was the scorching pace being set. Toprak held a lead of 0.3s.

Next lap and Bautista, becoming ever more desperate, once again attacked Toprak into turn 1, the Turkish rider was able to defend to hold onto the lead.

Onto the final lap and Toprak was in the lead, followed by Bautista in 2nd, and Aegerter in 3rd. Approaching the final corner Bautista tried the block pass, infamously used by Valentino Rossi against Sete Gibernau in a MotoGP race there. Bautista slammed hard on the brakes, dived up the inside of Toprak, but Toprak knew it was coming, and squared the corner off accelerating hard out of the corner and narrowly beat Bautista to the line in a drag race. The Turkish rider’s elation however would be short lived, as race direction subsequently demoted him one position, for exceeding track limits on the final corner.

Round 12 WorldSBK Jerez, Spain 29.10.2023 Picture courtesy of WorldSBK

That meant that it was indeed a treble for the newly crowned champion Alvaro Bautista, and what a season he had. Toprak 2nd, Aegerter 3rd, Gardner 4th, Petrucci 5th, Rinaldi 6th, Oettl 7th, Redding 8th, Locatelli 9th, Gerloff 10th.

Result top 5:

  1. Bautista (Aruba.it Racing Ducati)
  2. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK)
  3. Aegerter (GYRT GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team)
  4. Gardner (GYRT GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team)
  5. Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 628
  2. Razgatlioglu – 552
  3. Rea – 370

 

Round 11 WorldSBK Portimao, Portugal, Race 2

The earlier Superpole race saw Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing Ducati) claim his 2nd win of the weekend, followed by Pata Yamaha Prometeon team mates of Toprak Razgatlioglu, and Andrea Locatelli in 2nd, and 3rd respectively.

Would Bautista be able to make it 3 wins from 3?

WorldSBK Portimao 01.10.2023 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Lights out for race 2, and Toprak aggressive as always from the off took the hole shot into turn 1, followed by Bautista, and Gardner (GYRT GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) who cut up the inside of Locatelli to take 3rd. Meanwhile further back, drama for Xavi Vierge (Honda HRC), who went off line, taking both Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), and Redding (Rokit BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) off track along with him. All three riders however were able to rejoin.

Next lap of the 20 lap race, and Bautista attacked Toprak into turn 1, however he eased off the throttle and didn’t make the move stick. Positions were as follows: 1. Toprak 2. Bautista 3. Gardner 4. Locatelli 5. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing Ducati) 6. Lecuona (Honda HRC) 7. Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) 8. Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) 9. Vd Mark (Rokit BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) 10. Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing).

With 18 laps left, Rinaldi was looking quick and stuffed his Ducati up the inside of an unsuspecting Gardner to take 3rd. Locatelli 4th, and Gardner dropped down to 5th.

As was the case in the earlier Superpole race, both Bautista, and Toprak had pulled away from the rest of the field, the others unable to match the blistering pace being set at the front. Rinaldi in 3rd was 1.6s behind his team mate.

With 16 laps remaining, Bautista was rehearsing his overtake on Toprak, getting ahead down the straight, before easing off into turn 1. Meanwhile further back it was 7. Gardner 8. Bassani 9. Petrucci 10. Aegerter (GYRT GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team).

Next lap and Bautista made the move he rehearsed the previous few laps count. He eased into the lead down the straight and took the position into turn 1. Toprak however was having none of it, and stuffed his R1 under the Ducati into turn 5, rear sliding out as he retook the lead.

Meanwhile Garrett Gerloff put in the new fastest lap with a 1:40.829. Further back Rea was up to 14th, but was subsequently given a long lap penalty for dangerous riding. Rinaldi then put in the new fastest lap with a 1:40.738.

With 13 laps to go, it was the turn of Bautista to put in the new fastest lap with a 1:40.4, and extended his lead to 0.3s in the process. Meanwhile Rinaldi had a gap of 1.7s to Toprak.

Approaching the half way point of the race, and Toprak struck, slamming his R1 up the inside of Bautista’s Ducati into turn 13 with a perfect block pass. However, Bautista responded by blasting past the R1 down the straiight. As has been the story all season, the Yamaha had no answer to the outright speed of the Ducati. Toprak, late on the brakes into turn 1, somehow retook the lead. A real battle was unfolding.

Rinaldi in 3rd was struggling to match the pace at the front, and was losing contact, with the gap extended to 1.9s.

Just at the half way point of the race, and drama for the Aussie, Gardner who had a mechanical, and was forced to retire. Positions at the half way stage were as follows; 1. Bautista 2. Toprak 3. Rinaldi 4. Locatelli 5. Gerloff 6. Lecuona 7. Petrucci 8. Aegerter 9. Oettl 10. Bassani.

With 9 laps remaining, Toprak was back in front, the lead now swapping virtually every lap. The gap between them was only 0.2s, this would no doubt go down to the wire.

With 7 laps to go, Bautista again blasted past Toprak down the straight and back into the lead. Meanwhile further back, Rea was up to 13th, and Redding 14th. At the front Toprak cut under Bautista into turn 13, before Bautista retook the lead into turn 1 the next lap, however he ran wide and Toprak retook the lead. This was breathtaking racing!

With only 5 laps left, Gerloff was having another superb race, and was all over the back of Locatelli and looking for the pass. With the constant swapping of positions ahead of him, Rinaldi had managed to claw back ground, and was closing in. Toprak held a lead of 0.2s in front.

Next lap, and Bautista again retook the lead down the straight and into turn 1. Then into turn 13, a favourite for Toprak, he jammed it up the the inside of Bautista with a neat pass to retake the lead.

With 3 laps remaining, Bautista was back in front, powering down the straight and into the lead into turn 1. Toprak was in no mood to settle for 2nd and, stuffed it up the inside of Bautista into turn 5. The move caught the Spaniard out, and his bike jerked violently as he sat it upright briefly. This race was still anyone’s to call. Meanwhile further back Rea was up to 11th.

Down to the penultimate lap, and Bautista again took the lead down the long straight, however as he had done before, he went wide, and Toprak went through the gap he left. This was edge of your seat racing, incredible stuff from two champions giving it absolutely everything.

Last lap, and as they had been for the past 20 laps, they were both still locked together in a bitter dog fight. Bautista took the lead again down the straight, before Toprak dived up the inside, nearly losing the front end in the process. Approaching the last few sets of corners, and Toprak was ahead, ringing the neck out of his R1, then onto the long right hander, Toprak still ahead, Bautista got the drive out of the last corner and powered past Toprak and across the line to take the win. Sensational racing, Toprak however was furious, and smashed his screen repeatedly. He had given everything, and yet it wasn’t enough to beat the flawless pairing of Bautista, and the Ducati.

WorldSBK Portimao 01.10.2023 Picture courtesy of WorldSBK

Rinaldi 3rd, Gerloff 4th, Locatelli 5th, Petrucci 6th, Lecuona 7th, Aegerter 8th, Oettl (GoEleven Racing) 9th, Rea 10th.

Result top 5:

  1. Bautista (Aruba.it Racing Ducati)
  2. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK Team)
  3. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing Ducati)
  4. Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW)
  5. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK Team)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 566
  2. Razgatlioglu -506
  3. Rea – 350

The championship will go down to the final round in Jerez, Spain.

Round 11 WorldSBK Portimao, Portugal, Race 1

It’s the penultimate round of the 2023 championship, and there are only two riders capable of lifting the trophy. Reigning champion, Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing Ducati), and 2021 champion, Toprak Razgatloglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK).

Round 11 WorldSBK Portimao, Portugal, Race 1 Picture courtesy of WorldSBK

The earlier Superpole saw Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) take top spot with an unmatched lap of 1:39.620, followed by team mate Alex Lowes, and Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) in 2nd, and 3rd respectively. Toprak 4th, Bautista 5th. Locatelli was subsequently penalised for not heeding a flag, and demoted to the back of the grid for race 1.

Conditions for race 1 were near enough perfect, with air temperature of 29 degrees Celsius, and track temperature of 40 degrees Celsius, with clear skies under bright Algarve sun.

Lights out for race 1 and it was Toprak with the hole shot into turn 1, Rea made contact with Bautista and dropped down to 4th, Bautista moved into 3rd, behind Lowes in 2nd, Vd Mark (Rokit BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was up to 4th.

Next lap and Lowes was looking quick, and moved through on Toprak to take the lead. Positions were as follows: 1. Lowes 2. Toprak 3. Bautista 4. Vd Mark 5. Rea 6. Gardner (GYRT GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 7. Lecuona (Honda HRC) 8. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing Ducati) 9. Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing) 10. Bassani (Motocorsa Racing)

With 18 laps of 20 left, Rea put in the new fastest lap a 1:40.743, and moved through on Vd Mark into 4th, before cutting under Bautista to move into 3rd. The leading 5 riders had now pulled away from the rest of the field.

Next lap and Lowes got mugged going into turn 1, as first Toprak dive bombed him to take the lead, followed swiftly by Bautista, Rea, and VD Mark. Lowes dropped down to 5th. Bautista then got through on Rea into turn 5 to take 2nd. Meanwhile further back, after having briefly lost contact with the group ahead, Remi Gardner was in 6th, and closing in.

With 15 laps remaining, Bautista got into Toprak’s slip stream and briefly took the lead, before Toprak was able to fight back and maintain the position. Meanwhile further back it was, 7. Rinaldi 8. Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) 9. Lecuona 10. Bassani.

Next lap and Bautista attacked once more into turn 1, before Toprak was yet again able to snap back and retain position.

With 13 laps to go, Bautista lined up the move into turn 1 again, and this time the move stuck, and Toprak was unable to respond. Bautista now in the lead. Meanwhile further back, drama for Rinaldi who was forced to retire due to a mechanical issue. At the front Bautista put in a new fastest lap a 1:40.489, and was pulling away.

Just at the halfway point of the race, and Bautista held a lead of 0.8s. Vd Mark had now caught Lowes in 4th, the Dutchman was all over the back of him and was looking for the pass. Meanwhile further back, Gerloff was up to 6th.

Next lap and Vd Mark made a pass on Lowes into turn 1 and moved into 4th, Lowes down to 5th. Meanwhile, after having started at the back of the grid, Locatelli was up to 11th.

Next lap and Locatelli was now up to 10th, having got past Xavi Vierge (Honda HRC). Meanwhile at the front, Bautista could not shake off a stubborn Toprak, and his lead was only 0.5s. In 3rd place Rea had lost contact with the two ahead of him.

With 6 laps left, Locatelli was having a strong race and moved through on Bassani to take 9th. Further back there was a 3 way fight for 13th between, Petrucci 13th, Redding (Rokit BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) 14th, and Domi Aegerter (GYRT GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team).

With 4 laps remaining, Gerloff had caught Lowes and made a pass on him into turn 1 to move into 5th. Meanwhile at the front Bautista had increased his lead to 1.0s. Toprak held a gap of 3.3s to Rea in 3rd, and Rea held a gap of 4.5s to Vd Mark in 4th.

Next lap and Gerloff had now caught Vd Mark, and attacked the Dutchman to move into 4th. The Texan was having a great race. Next up for Vd Mark was Lowes, and Gardner who both attacked him and subsequently moved up positions. Vd Mark dropped down to 7th.

Round 11 WorldSBK Portimao, Portugal, Race 1 Picture courtesy of WorldSBK

Penultimate lap and Bautista had extended his lead to 2.0s, and now looked comfortable for the race win.

Last lap and Bautista crossed the line to take the win, as well as the constructors championship for Ducati. Toprak 2nd, Rea 3rd, Gerloff 4th, Lowes 5th, Gardner 6th, Vd Mark 7th, Lecuona 8th, Locatelli 9th, Vierge 10th.

Result top 5:

  1. Bautista (Aruba.it Racing Ducati)
  2. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK)
  3. Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
  4. Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW)
  5. Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 529
  2. Razgatlioglu – 477
  3. Rea – 344

 

Round 10 WorldSBK, Aragon, Spain, Race 1

The earlier Superpole saw Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) claim the new outright lap record with a blistering 1:47.973, a time that couldn’t be matched by either Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing Ducati), or Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Ahead of race 1, Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was declared unfit to race after undergoing knee surgery.

WorldSBK Aragon Race 1 23.09.2023 Florian Marino, Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Lights out then for Race 1 and it was Bautista who took the hole shot into turn 1 under perfect conditions. Rea 2nd, Toprak 3rd, Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing Ducati) 4th, and Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) 5th.

Next lap of the 18 lap race, and positions were as follows: 1. Bautista 2. Rea 3. Toprak 4. Rinaldi 5. Locatelli 6. Oettl (GoEleven Ducati) 7. Lecuona (Honda HRC) 8. Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) 9. Vierge (Honda HRC) 10. Gardner (GRT GYRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team).

With 16 laps remaining, Bautista eager to get away from Rea, put in a new fastest lap with a 1:49.5. As had happened very often all season this trio began pulling away from the rest. Toprak held a gap of 1.5s to Rinaldi in 4th. Meanwhile further back it was 12. Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing), 13. Vd mark (Rokit BMW Motorrad WorldSBK), 14. Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) 15. Redding (Rokit BMWMotorrad WorldSBK).

With 14 laps left, Lecuona received a double long lap penalty, and dropped down to 15th. Petrucci was up to 10th, having started from the back of the grid after crashing in qualifying.

On lap 6 of 18, massive drama as championship, and race leader, Alvaro Bautista crashed out of the race into turn 9, losing the front end down into the corkscrew, and sliding into the gravel. He got the bike back up and rejoined at the back of the field. Toprak seized the moment and dived through on Rea to briefly take the lead, before Rea snapped straight back into turn 5 to take back the lead.

With 12 laps to go positions were as follows: 1. Rea 2. Toprak 3. Rinaldi 4. Locatelli 5. Oettl 6. Petrucci 7. Bassani 8. Gardner 9. Vierge 10. Vd Mark.

Just over half race distance and Rea was still controlling the lead with a narrow gap of 0.1s over Toprak. Toprak held a gap of 0.8s to Rinaldi in 3rd who was on a charge, and was looking good. Meanwhile at the back of the field Bautista was in 19th.

With 7 laps remaining Rinaldi had now caught the back of Toprak, joining the leading duo, and was setting faster lap times than either of them.

Next lap and Rinaldi cut up the inside of Toprak into turn 5, with an incredibly tight line to take 2nd. Toprak had by no means “left the door open”, but could not defend the move.

With 5 laps left, Danilo Petrucci continued his remarkable charge from last place, and was now up to 5th, after getting through on the German, Oettl. Gardner was up to 7th.

Next lap and Rinaldi attacked Rea, briefly taking the lead before Rea fought back to keep it. Coming down the long back straight there was only ever going to be one winner, and Rinaldi powered past Rea and into the lead. Toprak then dived up the inside of Rea to take 2nd, Rea from 1st to 3rd. Meanwhile further back Bautista was up to 16th.

Penultimate lap, and after getting into the lead, Rinaldi was now stretching away from Toprak, and held a gap of 0.7s, and was looking on for the race win.

WorldSBK Aragon Race 1 23.09.2023 Picture courtesy of WorldSBK

Last lap and Rinaldi crossed the line to take the win, followed by Toprak in 2nd, and Rea in 3rd. Locatelli 4th, Petrucci 5th, Oettl 6th, Gardner 7th, Gerloff 8th, Bassani 9th, Lecuona 10th. Meanwhile Bautista crashed for the 2nd time going too hot into a corner, and lost the front end. Not a good race for the championship leader.

Result top 5:

  1. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing Ducati)
  2. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK)
  3. Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
  4. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK)
  5. Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 467
  2. Razgatlioglu – 430
  3. Rea – 306

 

Round 8 WorldSBK, Most, Czech Rep, Race 2

The earlier Superpole race saw Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) claim his first win of the weekend, followed by Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), and Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing Ducati), in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

WorldSBK 30.07.2023 Most, Czech Rep. Picture courtesy of Honda Racing Corporation.

With warm and dry conditions for race 2, as well as the fact that it would be the last race before the summer break, it was all to play for.

Lights out then for race 2 and it was Bautista with the hole shot, closely followed by Bassani (Motocorsa Racing), who was aggressive from the off as always, Rea 3rd, and Toprak in 4th. Early drama yet again for Gerloff (GYRT GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), who ran off into turn 1 going down into the gravel. He rejoined at the back of the field.

Next lap and it was Bassani who over shot into the tight turn 1, he managed to “motocross” his way back on track but lost several places. Positions were as follows: 1. Bautista 2. Rea 3. Toprak 4. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing Ducati) 5. Gardner (GYRT GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 6. Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 7. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) 8. Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) 9. Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) 10. Vierge (Honda HRC). Drama for Eric Granado (Petronas MIE Racing Honda Team) who crashed out, his race was over.

With 19 laps of 22 remaining, Toprak dived up the inside of Rea into turn 1 to take 2nd. The poor weekend for Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha) continued as he crashed yet again, this time into turn 1, and his race was over. Meanwhile further back it was 10th Vierge, 11th Aegerter (GYRT GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), 12th Redding (Rokit BMW Motorrad WorldSBKTeam).

With 17 laps to go, it was Toprak with the new fastest lap a 1:31.951. Bautista was coming under increasing pressure from the Turkish rider, who was aiming for his 2nd win of the weekend. Further back in 5th place, Gardner held a gap of 2s to Locatelli in 6th.

Next lap, and after getting great drive out of the previous corner, Toprak blasts under Bautista into turn 13 to take the lead, Bautista had no response, super move. Meanwhile further back it was 12. Lecuona (Honda HRC) 13. Aegerter 14. Lowes.

With 15 laps left, local rider Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing Movisio) looked to have a mechanical issue and retired to the pits.

Next lap and in 3rd place, Rea had a gap of 1.0s to bridge across to Bautista. While he held a gap of 1.4s to Rinaldi in 4th. Gardner held a gap of 1.6s to Petrucci in 6th. At the front the Yamaha R1 looked good, and was right at home with the twisty flowing nature of the racetrack and Toprak was looking as determined as ever. Bautista had his work cut out for him, with the lap times between them very similar.

With 12 laps to go, Scott Redding got past Loris Baz up into 9th.

Next lap and Bautista attacked around the outside of Toprak, the Turkish rider defended his position. Absolutely nothing in it between these two, it was shaping up to be a cracking race.

Just over half race distance, and after his failed attempt to pass Toprak into the twisty sections of the track, the only real option left was the tight turn 1. Bautista got great drive down the straight and lined up a pass on the R1, only to have the door well and truly slammed in his face. Toprak a demon on the brakes as ever. Rea was just about hanging onto the back of these two in 3rd.

Next lap and positions were as follows: 1. Toprak 2. Bautista 3. Rea 4. Rinaldi 5. Petrucci 6. Gardner 7. Bassani 8. Locatelli 9. Redding 10. Baz.

Then with only 6 laps remaining, massive drama as the race leader Toprak Razgatlioglu high sided out of the chicane, in a very uncharacteristic mistake. He flew over the handlebars, and into the gravel, with his bike narrowly missing him. He got to his feet, with his arms held outstretched in utter disbelief.

WorldSBK 30.07.2023 Most, Czech Rep. Picture courtesy of Honda Racing Corporation.

A grateful Bautista took over the lead with enough of a gap back to Rea to ensure he wouldn’t get any immediate attacks. It was Rea 2nd, Rinaldi 3rd, and Danilo Petrucci in 4th, again showing great late race pace, and was reeling in Rinaldi.

With only 3 laps left, Petrucci made his move on Rinaldi, and took 3rd. Rinaldi next had to deal with Bassani who was gaining on him.

Penultimate lap, and Bassani had now caught his fellow countryman, and moved through on him into 4th. Petrucci was flying, and was closing in on Rea, looking like he had more pace. Petrucci caught Rea and attacked, Rea however, was able to defend his position.

Last lap, and Petrucci got great drive out of the last corner to pip Rea to the line to take 2nd. However it was his 18th win of the season, and a new record in WorldSBK, and it went to Alvaro Bautista. Petrucci 2nd, Rea 3rd, Bassani 4th, Rinaldi 5th, Gardner 6th, Locatelli 7th, Redding 8th, Vierge 9th, Baz 10th.

Result top 5:

  1. Bautista (Aruba.it Racing Ducati)
  2. Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team)
  3. Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
  4. Bassani (Motocorsa Racing Team)
  5. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing Ducati)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 427
  2. Razgatlioglu – 353
  3. Rea – 251

 

 

Round 7 WorldSBK, Imola, Race 1

The earlier Superpole saw Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) claim top spot with an unbeaten time of 1:45.959, followed by team mate Andrea Locatelli, and Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Scorching temperatures were already taking hold across Southern Europe, and the mercury was hitting 34 degrees Celsius for race 1, with a track temperature of nearly 60 degrees.

Lights out then for race 1 and it was Andrea Locatelli with the hole shot into turn 1, followed by Bassani 2nd, Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing Ducati) 3rd, Toprak 4th, and Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 5th.

Round 7 WorldSBK, Imola, Race 1 – Picture courtesy of KRT WorldSBK

Next lap of the 19 lap race and positions were as follows: 1. Locatelli 2. Bassani 3. Bautista 4. Toprak 5. Rea 6. Redding (Rokit BMW Motorrad WorldSBK)  7. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing Ducati) 8. Brad Ray (MotoxRacing Yamaha) 9. Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing) 10. Baz (Bonovo Action BMW)

With 18 laps to go, Bassani who had been looking aggressive from the off, dived up the inside of Locatelli to take the lead. Further back Rea held a gap of 0.7s to Redding, while Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was up to 10th. At the front Locatelli responded to retake the lead, Bautista moved into 2nd, while Bassani dropped down into 3rd. Drama then for Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha) who crashed out, his race over.

Next lap and Toprak got through on Bautista up into 2nd. Pata Prometeon Yamahas were now 1 and 2.

With 16 laps of 19 remaining, Bassani continued to fall back and this time Rea got through and into 4th.

Next lap and Toprak got through on his team mate and took the lead. Meanwhile further back it was Redding 7th, Petrucci 8th, Baz 9th, Lowes 10th, and Ray 11th. Bautista then got through on Locatelli and up into 2nd, Rea too seized the opportunity and dived up the Italian into 3rd. Locatelli had now dropped to 4th.

With 13 laps to go, Bautista was slowly ratcheting up the pressure on Toprak. Rea put in a new fastest lap a 1:47.554 and was right on the back of Bautista. The leading trio were edging away from the rest of the field. Meanwhile further back Petrucci was up to 7th, Redding 8th. The factory Hondas were struggling again with Vierge 14th, and Lecuona 15th, although Vierge had to start from the back of the grid due to a last minute issue, so his position was well deserved. Leon Haslam (Rokit BMW Motorrad WorldSBK) was in 13th and riding for the injured Tom Sykes.

Next lap and it was Locatelli with the new fastest lap a 1:48.353, he had clearly not given up and was trying to make contact with the leading trio. Bautista then had a massive tank slapper down the back straight and it allowed Rea to come through. Bautista was lucky to get away with what could have been a nasty crash. It didn’t deter Alvaro however, and he snapped back to take 2nd.

With 11 laps remaining Locatelli held a gap of 1.6s to Bassani in 5th, Rinaldi 6th.

Next lap and it was Petrucci who got through on Bassani up into 6th, Rinaldi was ahead of him in 5th, and Bassani had now dropped down to 7th.

Just over half race distance and Bautista had shrugged off his earlier moment, and was now right on Toprak. Rea was struggling to keep contact with the pace being set by the leading duo, and was falling behind.

With 8 laps to go Bautista had been lining up a pass and used the power of the Ducati to once again blast past Toprak down the back straight, and into the lead. It was a perfectly clean pass and Toprak could not respond. The 250 revs docked from the Ducati by the organisers, seemingly making no difference to the performance what so ever.

And if to reiterate the point, Bautista put in a new fastest lap a 1:47.065 with now only 6 laps remaining. Drama for Eric Granado (Petronas MIE Racing Honda Team) who crashed out.

With only 5 laps remaining the positions were as follows: 1. Bautista 2. Toprak 3. Rea 4. Locatelli 5. Rinaldi.

Next lap and drama for Lecuona who had to retire due to a mechanical issue. Meanwhile further back Bassani continued to slide down the positions, and was now getting reeled in by Loris Baz. Lowes was 9th, Redding 10th, Haslam 11th. Vierge then got through on Leon to take 11th. Meanwhile drama for the Swiss rider Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) who retired back to the pits due to a mechanical.

Penultimate lap and Bautista now held a gap of 3.4s over Toprak, while Toprak held a similar gap over Rea in 3rd.

Round 7 WorldSBK, Imola, Race 1 – Picture courtesy of WorldSBK

Last lap and Bautista secured yet another win followed by Toprak 2nd, Rea 3rd, Locatelli 4th, Rinaldi 5th, Petrucci 6th, Bassani 7th, Baz 8th, Lowes 9th, and Redding 10th.

Result top 5:

  1. Bautista (Aruba.it Racing Ducati)
  2. Razgatlioglu (Pata Prometeon Yamaha WorldSBK)
  3. Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
  4. Locatelli (Pata Prometeon WorldSBK)
  5. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing Ducati)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 382
  2. Razgatlioglu – 284
  3. Locatelli – 188

 

Round 5 WorldSBK, Misano, Race 2

The earlier Superpole race saw Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing Ducati) claim his second win of the weekend, after the race was red flagged with only 3 laps remaining. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) finished 2nd, with Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing Ducati) rounding out the podium.

WorldSBK Round 5 Misano Picture courtesy of HRC

Conditions were again ideal for racing, and Bautista was looking to make it 14 wins out of 15 races so far this season. Doing so would cement his name in the history books as the first rider to achieve it. Iker Lecuona (Honda HRC) was declared unfit to race due to a leg injury sustained in the Superpole race.

Lights out then for race 2, and it was Toprak with the hole shot into turn 1 looking to make life difficult early on for Bautista. Bautista was in 2nd, Rinaldi 3rd, Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) 4th, Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 5th, Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 6th. Both Kawasaki’s then got through on Bassani, moving Rea and Lowes into 4th, and 5th respectively. Vierge (Honda HRC) 7th, Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorlsSBK) 8th, Redding (Rokit BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) 9th, and Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) 10th.

Next lap of 21 laps and Bautista takes the lead for the first time using all the top end speed of the yellow Ducati to scream past Toprak down the straight.

With 19 laps to go, Toprak now had the other Ducati to worry about with Rinaldi sizing him up for the pass. He made the move stick and Rinaldi moved up into 2nd. Meanwhile Bassani got back past both factory Kawasaki’s and into 4th.

Next lap and Bautista had pulled out his lead to 1.6s. Further back it was Redding 10th, Oettl (Team GoEleven) 11th, and Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) 12th.

With 16 laps to go, and a stark warning for the other riders, Bautista put in the new fastest lap a 1:33.936, and extended his lead to 2.7s in the process. Meanwhile further back Vierge had now caught the back of the factory Kawasaki team mates, and was also looking for the pass. In 3rd place Toprak held a gap of 2.6s over Bassani in 4th.

Then with 14 laps to go, drama for Alex Lowes who crashed out of the race, losing control of his Kawasaki before it plunged into the gravel. He looked unhurt, and was able to walk away.

Next lap and Redding got mugged by both the GYTR Yamahas, as first Gardner, and then Aegerter got past, 11th and 12th respectively. That dropped Redding down to 14th, and then Brad Ray (MotoxRacing Yamaha) seized the opportunity and dived through. Redding now in 15th, lost 3 places in a few corners, another disappointing race for the factory BMWs.

WorldSBK Round 5 Misano Picture courtesy of KRT

Just over half race distance and Redding had now dropped down to 17th, he seemed furious and could be seen shaking his head as he came past his pit board. Meanwhile at the front, Toprak was slowly reeling Rinaldi in and the gap was cut down to 0.2s.

With 8 laps remaining the factory BMWs were now in 16th and 17th, with the two satellite bikes of Gerloff and Baz ahead of them. The Texan, Gerloff, was best placed in 10th.

Next lap and Bautista had a commanding lead of 5.0s and was looking as comfortable as he had all season long. Meanwhile having caught Rinaldi, Toprak dived up the inside of the Italian to move into 2nd. The Turkish rider held a gap of 7.8s over Bassani in 4th. Bassani then held a gap of 1.0s over Rea, with Rea holding a gap of 1.9s over Vierge in 6th.

Not willing to concede his place to Toprak in front of his home fans, Rinaldi then ran into turn 1 too hot, collected the rear of Toprak in the process and crashed out. Toprak stayed upright and held onto his position, while Bassani was now in podium contention.

With only 5 laps remaining, Petrucci had now caught the back of Locatelli in 6th and was looking for the pass. Further back it was Oetll in 8th, Gerloff 9th, and Gardner in 10th. Drama for Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha) who went down into turn 3, his race was over.

With 3 laps to go, reigning BSB champion Brad Ray, seemed to suffer a mechanical issue and went back to the pits his race over. That allowed both Rokit BMWs of Sykes, and Redding to move up into 13th and 14th respectively.

WorldSBK Round 5 Misano Picture courtesy of KRT

Last lap, and Bautista crossed the line with a gap of 8.4s over Toprak in 2nd. That made it 14 wins of the first 15 races in a season, and moved him into the history books. Bassani 3rd, Rea 4th, Vierge 5th, Locatelli 6th, Petrucci 7th, Gerloff 8th, Oetll 9th, and Gardner 10th.

Result top 5:

  1. Bautista (Aruba.it Racing Ducati)
  2. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK)
  3. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati)
  4. Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
  5. Vierge (Honda HRC)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 298
  2. Razgatlioglu – 212
  3. Locatelli – 150

Round 5 WorldSBK Misano, Race 1

Back to Misano after the few weeks break for the riders, and it will be the first of two rounds in Italy this season, with a trip to Imola for round 7. Breaking news earlier in the week saw a major shake up in the grid with news Toprak Razgatlioglu would be leaving Yamaha at the end of the season, with a shock switch to BMW.

WorldSBK Misano Race 1 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

The earlier Superpole saw Bautista (Aruba.it Racing Ducati) claim pole with a time of 1:33.017, sporting the new one off yellow livery for Ducati. Followed by Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Prometeon Yamaha WorldSBK), and Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing Ducati) in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Conditions for race 1 were near enough perfect as the riders lined up on the grid.

Lights out then for the first race of the weekend, and it was Bautista with the hole shot into turn 1, followed by his team mate Rinaldi in 2nd, Toprak in 3rd, Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) 4th, Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 5th, Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) 6th, and Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 7th.

Next lap of 20 laps, and Bassani cut under Rea in a high speed corner to take 5th, the Italian was looking aggressive early on. It was another Italian who set the new fastest lap, Rinaldi with a 1:34.136 in 2nd. It was a Ducati 1, 2 at the front, and Bautista extended his lead to 0.8s. Meanwhile further back Scott Redding (Rokit BMW Motorrad WorldSBK) was in 11th, Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha WorldSBK) 12th, and Xavi Vierge (Honda HRC) 13th.

With 16 laps to go, Bautista had now increased his gap over Rinaldi to 0.9s. Meanwhile Bassani, continued his aggressive start and was all over the back of Petrucci and looking for the pass. The Brit Brad Ray (MotoxRacing Yamaha)  was down in 18th after stalling on the grid.

Next lap and Bautista had now extended his lead to 1.4s, and was slowly pulling away from Rinaldi. The Italian unable to match his pace, so too Toprak in 3rd was losing contact with both riders ahead of him. Meanwhile Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) made a charge moving initially past Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), and then through on Lecuona (Honda HRC) to take 8th. Moving up two places in a few corners. Meanwhile the gap to Aegerter in 7th was at 4.4s.

With 13 laps remaining, Rinaldi held a gap of 1.9s to Toprak in 3rd. Bassani in 5th held a gap of 1.1s to Rea in 6th. Meanwhile Domi Aegerter was all over the back of Rea and looking for the pass. Rea was not having a happy time on his Kawasaki, and wasn’t getting the drive, or stability he was hoping for.

WorldSBK Misano Race 1 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Nearing half race distance, and Petrucci, was having one of his best races of the season so far and was closing in on Toprak, reducing the gap to 0.5s.

Just over half race distance, and Toprak responded to the Petrucci charge by increasing the gap to 0.9s. Meanwhile out in the lead, Bautista looked ice cool as he had much of the season, and held a gap of 3.1s. Rinaldi held a gap of 2.9s.  Rinaldi was in 2nd, Toprak 3rd, Petrucci 4th, Bassani 5th, Rea 6th, Aegerter 7th.

With 7 laps to go both the factory BMW’s were struggling in 12th and 17th. Meanwhile Rea had his hands full defending his position from Aegerter in 6th. Brad Ray hadn’t made any headway and was still in 18th.

Next lap, and drama for Petrucci who crashed out of 4th place, he had been looking good all race until that point.

With only 4 laps remaining positions were as follows: 1. Bautista 2. Rinaldi 3. Toprak 4. Bassani 5. Rea 6. Aegerter 7. Lowes 8. Lecuona 9. Gardner 10. Vierge. Redding, the best placed BMW rider, was all over the back of Vierge and looking for the pass.

Penultimate lap, and it was Bautista’s to lose.

WorldSBK Misano Race 1 Picture courtesy of WorldSBK

Last lap and it was a Ducati 1, 2 in the yellow livery for the team’s home race, and Bautista’s 12th win of the season. Rinaldi 2nd, Toprak 3rd, Bassani 4th, Rea 5th, Aegerter 6th, Lowes 7th, Lecuona 8th, Gardner 9th, Vierge 10th.

Result top 5:

  1. Bautista (Aruba.it Racing Ducati)
  2. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing Ducati)
  3. Razgatlioglu (Pata Prometeon Yamaha WorldSBK)
  4. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati)
  5. Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 261 pts
  2. Razgatlioglu – 183
  3. Locatelli – 137

 

Round 4 WorldSBK Catalunya, Spain, Race 1

Early May here in Barcelona, and already the temperatures were scorching, nearing 30 degrees Celsius air temperature, and 50 degrees on track.

WorldSBK Catalunya, Spain Round 4. Picture courtesy of WorldSBK

With news earlier in the week that reigning champion, Alvaro Bautista would be extending his contact with Aruba Ducati for at least another season, it all meant there would be no easing off of the gas. His rivals would need to step up the game if they had eyes on his world championship crown, or indeed stopping him in Catalunya this weekend.

Lights out then for Race 1, and it was Bautista (Aruba.it Racing Ducati) with the hole shot into turn 1, followed by his team mate Rinaldi behind in 2nd. Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 3rd, Toprak (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) 4th, and Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) in 5th.

Next lap and with Toprak mounting pressure on his team mate Locatelli, he did eventually make the move into turn 3, moving into 4th. Redding (Rokit BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) had been penalised grid positions for irresponsible riding and had to start from 16th, although he had made a great start and was now up to 11th. Drama for Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing Movisio) who went down into turn 4, and his race was over. At the front Bautista had a gap of 0.5s to Rinaldi behind in 2nd.

Next lap and positions were as follows: 1. Bautista 2. Rinaldi 3. Rea 4. Toprak 5. Locatelli 6. Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) 7. Aegerter 8. Vierge (Honda HRC) 9. Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) 10. Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK).

Then, with 17 laps remaining, the race is red flagged due to a crash by Eric Granado (Petronas MIE Racing Honda Team) into turn 12. He was conscious as they stretchered him off the track and taken to the medical centre. The race would be restarted with 17 laps still remaining.

Lights out then for the second time, and once again it was Bautista with the hole shot into turn 1, followed by Rinaldi 2nd, Bassani 3rd, Rea 4th, Locatelli 5th, and Toprak in 6th. Drama then for Redding as he seemed to slam into the back of Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha) into turn 10, both riders plunged into the gravel with bits of fairing everywhere, and their respective races were over. Meanwhile at the front, things were getting spicy between fellow Italians, Rinaldi and Bassani in the battle for 2nd, with Rea behind in 4th.

Next lap and Rinaldi barged up the inside of Bassani after the latter had briefly taken 2nd to retake the position, gloves were definitely off at this stage. As the ‘red mist’ descended, Bassani then stuffed it up the inside of Rinaldi into turn 10, although he caught the back of the Ducati in the process sending a helpless Rinaldi flying off into the gravel. Rinaldi was not at all happy, giving a sarcastic ’round of applause’ to his fellow countryman after that incident. Positions were as follows: 1. Bautista 2. Bassani 3. Rea 4. Toprak 5. Locatelli 6. Aegerter 7. Lowes 8. Vierge 9. Lecuona 10. Gardner.

With 14 laps left Bautista put in the new fastest lap, a 1:41.747, and held a gap of 1.8s to Bassani.

WorldSBK Catalunya, Spain Round 4. Picture courtesy of WorldSBK

Next lap and Bautista extended his lead to 2.3s. Meanwhile further behind Toprak was right on the back of Rea, and you sensed a pass was coming. The Kawasaki had previously struggled in very hot conditions. Meanwhile Bassani was given a long lap penalty for his contact with Rinaldi, which he immediately took and rejoined in 5th.

With 12 laps to go Bautista had now extended his lead to 4.1s to Rea who was now in 2nd, with Toprak behind in 3rd who had a gap of 1.2s to his team mate behind in 4th, Locatelli. Meanwhile further back it was, Aegerter 6th, Lowes 7th,  Vierge 8th, Gardner 9th, Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing) 10th, and Brad Ray (MotoxRacing Yamaha) 15th.

With just over half race distance covered, Bassani got back through on Locatelli into turn 10 to take 4th. Meanwhile further back there was a battle for 7th between Lecuona and Lowes. Further back again and there was a 3 way  battle for 9th between Vierge 9th, Gardner 10th, and Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) 11th. The young Aussie, Gardner, then got through on Vierge to take 9th.

With 7 laps to go, Vinales crashed out into turn 10 his race was over. Meanwhile at the front and clear out in the lead, Bautista had now ramped his lead up to 8.6s, and looked comfortable, and was nearly out of sight of the chasers behind. Toprak was still right on the back of Rea, although the Kawasaki was looking much better in the hot conditions, and Rea was holding his own. Disappointment then for Lowes who went down into the downhill turn 7 losing the front end, he had been looking good up until that point. Toprak held a gap of 1.9s to Bassani behind in 4th.

With only 5 laps remaining Bautista now extended his lead to 9.5s and was making it look easy. Rea continued to hold off Toprak and held a gap of 0.3s.

Next lap and Locatelli retook 4th, getting through on Bassani. Bassani paying for his earlier fight with Rinaldi no doubt, as he was struggling with grip. Bassani was 5th, Aegerter 6th, Lecuona 7th, Vierge 8th, Gardner 9th, Gerloff 10th, with British rider Brad Ray in 14th.

With 3 laps to go, Aegerter was having a great race for a rookie, and took 5th getting through on Bassani, with a nice clean move up the inside of the Ducati. Meanwhile out of sight in the lead, Bautista was entering turn 1, as Rea and Toprak were entering the final corner onto the straight, such was his sizeable lead of 11s. Further back Petrucci was battling Gardner for 10th.

Last lap and Toprak eventually made his move on Rea down the straight and into turn 1, out braking the Kawasaki and getting his bike stopped as only Toprak can do, Rea had no answer and dropped into 3rd.

WorldSBK Catalunya, Spain Round 4. Picture courtesy of WorldSBK

Taking his first win of the weekend, and making an ominous statement with the dominance of it, Bautista crossed the line in 1st, followed by Toprak in 2nd, Rea 3rd, Locatelli 4th, Aegerter 5th, Lecuona 6th, Bassani 7th, Vierge 8th, Gerloff 9th, Petrucci 10th.

Result top 5:

  1. Bautista (Aruba.it Racing Ducati)
  2. Razgatlioglu (Pata Prometeon Yamaha WorldSBK)
  3. Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
  4. Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha WorldSBK)
  5. Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorlsSBK)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 199 pts
  2. Razgatlioglu – 138
  3. Locatelli – 117

 

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