Round 12 WorldSBK, Phillip Island, Race 2

It’s the last dance. Who would snatch victory in the last race of the season?

The earlier superpole race saw the new world champion, Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati), take a gamble with slick tyres on a wet track that was drying out, a gamble which paid off. Bautista clinched the win, followed by Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha), and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki KRT).

WorldSBK Philip Island, Australia, Round 12 20.11.2022. Picture courtesy of WorldSBK

Conditions for race 2 were dry, if not cold, with air temperature only about 15 degrees Celsius.

Lights out then for race 2, and it was Bautista with the hole shot into turn 1, followed by Rea and Redding (BMW Motorrad) who got a great start from 6th on the grid. Massive drama then for Gerloff (GRT Yamaha) and Vierge (Honda HRC), the Texan clipped the rear end of the former Moto2 rider into turn2, sending both of them careering off track. Both their seasons were now over. Meanwhile Rea was looking to make an early impact, and took over the lead into turn 3, diving under Bautista, Redding sensed an opportunity, and so to also passed Bautista.

Next lap and positions were: 1. Rea 2. Redding 3. Bautista 4. Toprak 5. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT) 6. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) 7. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) 10. Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW) 11. Baz (Bonovo Action BMW). As he had been all weekend, Lowes was looking quick, and set the new fastest lap with a 1:30.991, going around the outside of Bautista in the process, and into 3rd.

With 18 laps remaining Bautista blasted past both Lowes and Redding down the straight and into turn 1 to take over 2nd. Toprak moved up to 3rd, with Lowes in 4th, and Redding bumped down to 5th.

Next lap, and Rea was riding defensively, as Bautista was looking to retake the lead, and was applying pressure. Locatelli was next to get through on Redding, and he moved into 5th, with Scott now in 6th. Meanwhile in the lead Rea held a gap of 0.2s.

Next lap and Bautista made his move on Rea, powering past the ZX-10RR down the straight and into the lead. Toprak was 3rd, Lowes 4th, Locatelli 5th, Redding 6th, and Rinaldi 7th. As was the story in race 1, the leading 4 were pulling away from the rest, and there was a sizeable gap now.

With 15 laps left to go, Bautista was looking to make it two wins out of three, and posted the new fastest lap with a 1:30.2. Lowes held a gap of 2.1s to Locatelli behind in 5th.

With 12 laps remaining, Rea wasn’t giving up and was pressing Bautista, and looking for the pass. Toprak in 3rd, was starting to lose contact with the two ahead of him, as the pace was ramped up. Lowes was still in 4th, and looked to be managing his tyres better than Toprak.

Just over half race distance, and Bautista looked to be suffering from rear tyre grip issues, with the back of his Panagale sliding out into most corners. By contrast Rea looked to be managing his tyres perfectly, and the Kawasaki looked to have the better drive out of corners. The gap between them was 0.4s.

Meanwhile further back, it was Redding 6th, Rinaldi 7th, Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) 9th, Vd Mark (BMW Motorrad) 12th, and Laverty 13th.

With 8 laps left, Lowes got the better drive out of turn 12 and down the straight to come through on Toprak, and take over 3rd. The gap to his team mate in 2nd was 1.7s. Meanwhile Rea had cut the gap to Bautista to 0.2s and was looking to make the pass.

With 6 laps to go, Lowes had lost time and the gap to Rea was now 2.7s. Toprak was in 4th, Locatelli 5th, and Redding 6th.

Then with 5 laps remaining, huge drama as the race is red flagged due to a crash between Laverty and Xavi Fores into turn 1. Both riders were conscious, but it was a high speed crash, and precautions were rightly taken. As 2/3 of the race distance had been covered, the positions at the end of the previous lap were taken as final. That meant Bautista won the final race of the season, to cap off an already impressive season.

WorldSBK Philip Island, Australia, Round 12 20.11.2022. Picture courtesy of WorldSBK

Results top 5:

  1. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati)
  2. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  3. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT)
  4. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  5. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)

Final championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 601 pts
  2. Razgatlioglu – 529
  3. Rea – 502

 

See you next season race fans!!!

 

Round 12 WorldSBK, Phillip Island, Race 1

Season finale here in the land down under. With Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati) already crowned world champion, it would fall to the others to fight it out for the last 3 races of the season.

WorldSBK Philip Island, Australia 19.11.2022 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Superpole saw Bautista claim pole with an unbeaten time of 1:29.813, followed by the Kawasaki KRT team mates of Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Conditions were mixed for race 1, with the track still wet from earlier rainfall, most of the riders went for full wet tyres.

Lights out then for race 1, and it was Bautista with the hole shot into turn 1, followed by Rea and Toprak (Pata Yamaha). Lowes ran wide and was able to rejoin in 4th, Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) was 5th.

Next lap of the 22 lap race, and positions were: 1. Bautista 2. Toprak 3. Rea 4. Lowes 5. Bassani (Motocorsa Duacti) 6. Locatelli 7. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha) 8. Vierge (Honda HRC). Bassani had a sensational start after only qualifying down in 14th, he was now up to 5th and looked quick.

With 20 laps to go, Rea made a move on Toprak blasting past the R1 down the straight and into turn 1 to take 2nd, and then cut up the inside of Bautista a few corners later to take the lead. Rea looked like he had good pace, even in the tricky conditions, as the track was starting to dry out. He held a gap of 0.6s to Bautista in 2nd.

Next lap and Rea put in the new fastest lap with a 1:43.070. Toprak then came through on Bautista to take 2nd, next was Lowes to relegate the new world champion down to 4th in a few corners. Both the Kawasakis were looking quick, and looked to have their set up dialled in. The leading four riders were now clearing away from the others.

With 17 laps to go, it was the turn of the former champion Toprak to put in the new fastest lap with a 1:43.014, and then made his move on Rea on take over the lead. Positions were as follows: 1. Toprak 2. Rea 3. Lowes 4. Bautista 5. Bassani 6. Locatelli. Lap times continued to drop with Lowes next to set the new fastest lap with a 1:42.8. The English rider then came through on Toprak into Doohans corner to make it a Kawasaki 1, 2.

With 15 laps to go, Lowes then took the lead down the straight, flying past his team mate to take the lead. Lowes was looking quick and was out to take his 1st win of the season. Meanwhile further back it was Gerloff 8th and Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) 10th. At the front end, Toprak ran out wide, and allowed Bautista to come through into 3rd.

With the track fairly well mostly dry now, several riders decided to come into the pits to change for slick tyres. These included Rea, Toprak and Bautista. Lowes decided to press on with his wet tyres, so to did Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad) and rookie Kyle Smith (Pedercini Kawasaki).

Half race distance now, and Lowes, currently in the lead after the others had pitted, was struggling with grip as his wet tyres were tearing up. Behind him then was Redding and Kyle Smith in 2nd, and 3rd respectively, Rea 5th, Toprak 6th, Bautista 7th, Locatelli 8th, and Bassani 9th. Lowes then decided to pull into the pits for a tyre change.

Next lap and Rea who had brand new slicks on was looking quick, and moved into 4th, setting the new fastest lap with a 1:33.311 in the process. Redding was still in the lead, but setting lap times around 8s slower then Rea, and would no doubt get caught.

With 9 laps to go Rea continued to slash the lead of Redding at the front, and set the new fastest lap with a 1:32.7. Meanwhile Toprak was in 4th and had a gap of 5.8s to Rea. Redding then decided to pull into the pits for a tyre change, which meant that rookie Kyle Smith, the Huddersfield local lad, lead his first WorldSBK race.

With 8 laps to go, Rea had now caught Smith, passed him, and immediately pulled away. Rea was looking good for his first win after a long win less drought of 24 races. Positions were as follows: 1. Rea 2. Smith 3. Toprak 4. Bautista 5. Locatelli 6. Lowes 7. Bassani. Toprak then blasted past Smith down the straight like he was riding a 250cc bike, moving into 2nd, and setting the new fastest lap with a 1:32.3. Lowes then moved into 5th after getting through on Locatelli.

With 6 laps left to go, Rea was showing no signs of slowing down, and set the new fastest lap with a 1:32.203, and held a gap of 5.7s to Torpak. The Turk had a gap of 8.3s to Bautista in 3rd. Lowes then pulled off an audacious pass on Bautista, taking him around the outside of Lukey Heights to move into 3rd. Lap times continued to drop, and Toprak was next to set the new one with a 1:32.005.

Next lap and it was Locatelli to take Bautista and move into 4th. Bautista was in 5th, and held a sizeable gap of 12s to Bassani in 6th.

With only 3 laps left positions were: 1. Rea 2. Toprak 3. Lowes 4. Locatelli 5. Bautista 6. Gerloff 7. Bassani 8. Vierge 9. Smith 10. Baz.

With 2 laps left it was Lowes with the new fastest lap, a 1:31.8. Drama for Vd Mark (BMW Motorrad) who had a big crash into turn 4, lost the front of his BMW and sent it catapulting into the gravel. The bike completely totalled, and his race was over.

Last lap and Rea broke his win less streak. Toprak 2nd, Lowes 3rd, Locatelli 4th, Bautista 5th, Gerloff 6th, Bassani 7th, Vierge 8th, Baz 9th. Smith 12th.

WorldSBK Philip Island, Australia 19.11.2022 Picture courtesy of WorldSBK

That 5th place finish for Bautista, also meant Ducati won the manufacturers championship, their first in 11 years.

Results top 5:

  1. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  2. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  3. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT)
  4. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)
  5. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 564 pts
  2. Razgatlioglu – 507
  3. Rea – 475

 

Round 11 WorldSBK Mandalika, Indonesia, Race 2

The Superpole race saw Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) claim his 2nd win of the weekend, followed by Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki KRT), and Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha).

WorldSBK Indonesia 15.11.2022 Jonathan Rea Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati) would need a podium finish to claim his first championship, and Ducati’s first championship for 11 years. Could Toprak stand in his way?

Lights out and it was Toprak with the hole shot into turn 1, followed by Rea, who quickly sensed an opportunity and made a quick pass to take over the lead, followed by Locatelli and Bautista. Redding (BMW Motorrad) was in 5th.

Next lap and positions were as follows: 1. Rea 2. Toprak 3. Locatelli 4. Bautista 5. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) 6. Redding 7. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT) 8. Vierge (Honda HRC) 9. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha) 10. Vd Mark (BMW Motorrad).

With 19 laps to go the lead group of 4 were already pulling away from the rest. It was Locatelli with the fastest lap a 1:33.2. Meanwhile further back it was 11. Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) 12. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) 15. Nozane (GRT Yamaha).

With 17 of 21 laps to go, it was Bassani with the fastest lap a 1:32.9. Bautista then came through on Locatelli to take 3rd. Bassani had now caught up with the lead group, now made up of 5 riders. The Italian was looking aggressive and barged through on his fellow countryman Locatelli, to take 4th.

Next lap and Toprak made his move on Rea into the hairpin corner at turn 10 taking the lead. Redding meanwhile dropped down to 10th, allowing both Gerloff and Rinaldi through.

Next lap and Rea ran wide, allowing a grateful Bautista to come through into 2nd. Toprak held a gap of 0.4s at the front.

With 14 laps to go Bassani came through on Rea, the Ducati’s acceleration proving too much for the ZX 10-RR, which couldn’t match it in the high track temperatures, which were nearing 70 degrees Celsius.

Coming up to half race distance, and Rea fought back taking Bassani with a neat pass up the inside into turn 12 to move back into 3rd. Meanwhile a miserable season for Nozane (GRT Yamaha) got worse with him crashing out into turn 11, and his race was over. At the front Bautista was right on Toprak and looking for the win to cap his impressive season off.

With 9 laps to go, Redding came through on Lowes to take 7th. Meanwhile Gerloff lost places and dropped down to 10th. Then as we’ve seen a number of times this season, Bautista used the power and speed of the “red missile” to blast past Toprak, and fire himself into the lead into turn 1. Toprak however, was up for the fight and snapped straight back a few corners later to retake the lead, and again Alvaro would again take the lead. This was a becoming a good scrap.

With 6 laps to go Bautista was still out in front. Meanwhile Toprak held a gap of 0.5s to Rea behind in 3rd. As was also the case for much of the season, these three were away, and clear from the rest of the field. Rea in 3rd held a gap of 2.5s to Bassani 4th, Locatelli 5th held a gap of 4.2s to Vierge in 6th.

Next lap and Toprak wasn’t going to let the win go without a fight, and he passed Bautista once again to take the lead.

With 4 laps to go Toprak continued his late race charge, and set a new fastest lap of 1:32.846 in the process, increasing the gap to Bautista behind to 0.6s. Meanwhile Bassani and Locatelli were battling it out for 4th.

Next lap and Toprak continued to widen the gap, now at 1.1s. Bautista looked content to take 2nd. Meanwhile Gerloff had fought back to 8th behind Vierge in 7th.

WorldSBK Indonesia 15.11.2022 Picture courtesy of WorldSBK

Last lap and Toprak crossed the line to take his 3rd win of the weekend, but it was Alvaro Bautista who claimed the championship coming over in 2nd, Rea in 3rd, Locatelli 4th, Bassani 5th, Redding 6th, Vierge 7th, Gerloff 8th, Lowes 9th, Rinaldi 10th.

Result top 5:

  1. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  2. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  4. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)
  5. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 553 pts
  2. Razgatlioglu – 487
  3. Rea – 450

Round 11 WorldSBK Mandalika, Indonesia, Race 1

Temperatures were scorching for the second visit to Indonesia, 36 degrees Celsius air temp, and 60 degrees track temp, amidst blazing sunshine. None of the deluge that was faced by the riders and fans last time round thankfully. Indeed the race was actually brought forward to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms.

WorldSBK Round 11 Indonesia 12.11.2022 Picture courtesy of WorldSBK

The other big news was that the track was recently resurfaced, and only had a very narrow racing line down so far. This combined with the high temperatures, meant it would be a very nervous race for the riders.

Superpole went to Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha), with an unbeaten time of 1:31.371, followed by Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki KRT), and Pata Yamaha team mate Andrea Locatelli. Iker Lecuona and Mahias were both ruled unfit to start the race after bad crashes in practice.

Lights out then for the 900th race in WorldSBK, and it was the pole man Toprak Razgatlioglu with the hole shot into turn 1, followed by his team mate Locatelli, Rea, and Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati). Both Lowes (Kawasaki KRT) and Redding (BMW Motorrad), suffered bad starts getting nudged off the line, and found themselves down in 10th and 19th respectively.

Next lap, and Rea was looking to make early ground, moved past Locatelli, and set the new fastest lap in the process with a 1:33.078. Positions were as follows: 1. Toprak 2. Rea 3. Locatelli 4. Bautista 5. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) 6. Vierge (Honda HRC) 7. Vd Mark (BMW Motorrad) 8. Rinadli (Aruba.it Ducati) 9. Lowes 10. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha). Toprak held a gap of 0.6s to Rea.

On lap 19 of 21 it was the turn of Bautista to come through on Locatelli. Toprak still held a gap of 0.3s out in front. Meanwhile further back it was Lowes 8th, Rinaldi 9th, and Gerloff in 10th.

Toprak had been quick all weekend, and put in the new fastest lap with a 1:32.886 on lap 17 of 21.

With 15 laps remaining, Toprak increased his lead to 1.2s, with Rea struggling to match the pace in the tricky conditions. Bautista 3rd, Locatelli 4th, Bassani 5th. Vd Mark had a moment and dropped back to 10th.

With 13 laps left, Bautista had now caught Rea and was looking for the pass. He made his move with a nice clean pass up the inside of Rea into the penultimate corner, Rea had no response and Bautista moved into 2nd. Meanwhile further back it was: Vierge 6th, Lowes 7th and Rinaldi 8th.

Coming up to half race distance, and Toprak had increased his lead to 3.2s over Bautista, and was looking quite comfortable. Then drama for both Oettl (GoEleven Ducati), and Mercado (MIE Honda). The former had a nasty looking crash, losing the back end in a fast corner, which sent the German flying over the front of his Ducati. Mercado had a mechanical issue, and his race was over.

With 9 laps left both Bassani and Toprak had big moments and lost places, Toprak ran off the track, and lost time to Bautista, with the gap cut down to 1.1s. Meanwhile further back there was now a three way battle for 6th between: Vierge 6th, Vd Mark 7th and Lowes 8th.

With 7 laps to go, the current positions as they stood meant that the championship would go on until tomorrow.

Next lap and Rinaldi was showing good late race pace, and moved through on Locatelli moving up to 4th. Meanwhile Toprak had recovered his pace, and had brought the gap back up to 2.3s over Bautista. Bautista of course didn’t need to take any unnecessary risks at this stage in the championship, and would have his chance to wrap up the title in the next few races. Rinaldi then ran wide into a corner losing his place to Locatelli. Meanwhile further back Gerloff had joined the scrap for 6th, which had now become a four way battle.

With 3 laps left, Toprak was managing his gap which was still 2.3s and looked comfortable to take the win. Then more drama for Vd Mark who crashed out into turn 16 and his race was over.

WorldSBK Round 11 Indonesia 12.11.2022 Picture courtesy of WorldSBK

Last lap and Toprak crossed the line to take his 28th win for Yamaha, which was the all time highest currently, followed by Bautista and Rea. Locatelli 4th, Rinaldi 5th, Vierge 6th, Gerloff 7th, Bassani 8th, Lowes 9th, Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) 10th.

Result top 5:

  1. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  2. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  4. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)
  5. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 527 pts
  2. Razgatlioglu – 450
  3. Rea – 425

 

Round 10 WorldSBK San Juan, Argentina, Race 2

The earlier superpole race was won by Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha), followed by Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati), and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki KRT).

Track temperature was a lot higher compared to race 1, which meant it would start to feel greasy for the riders, and tyre management would surely be a big factor for the race.

Lights out for race 2 then, and it was Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) with a great start, followed by the Kawasaki team mates of Rea and Lowes in 2nd and 3rd, Bautista 4th, and Toprak in 5th. An unhappy Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW), got a shove from Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati), which sent the Frenchman ploughing into the gravel, and his race was over. Bassani would no doubt receive a penalty for that incident.

Next lap and Rea ran wide losing positions and ended up in 6th. Lowes was having a great start to the race, and was attacking Bautista, the two of them fighting for 2nd. Toprak was now up to 4th.

With 19 laps to go positions were as follows; 1. Rinaldi 2. Lowes 3. Bautista 4. Toprak 5. Vierge (Honda HRC) 6. Rea. It was the Northern Irishman who then put in the new fastest lap with a 1:38.3.

Next lap and Bautista was finding his rhythm and came through on Lowes to move into 2nd. Toprak was next to come through Lowes, and moved into 3rd. Meanwhile further back it was Redding (BMW Motorrad) 10th, Laverty (Bonovo Action Ducati) 11th, and Vd Mark (BMW Motorrad) 12th.

With 16 laps to go, it was Lecuona (Honda HRC), who set the new fastest lap with a 1:38.2, impressive from the ex-MotoGP rider, as it was his first visit to San Juan. Bautista took over the lead from his team mate, and Toprak wasn’t about to let Bautista clear away, and moved through on Rinaldi into 2nd. Further back it was the Kawasaki team mates of Lowes and Rea, in 4th and 5th respectively. Bautista held a gap of 0.2s to Toprak.

Next lap and Toprak put in the new fastest lap of the race with a 1:37.923. The leading two of Bautista, and Toprak were pulling away from the rest, and had pulled out a significant gap. Rinaldi then ran wide allowing both of the Kawasaki team mates through. Positions were as follows; 1. Bautista 2. Toprak 3. Lowes 4. Rea 5. Rinaldi.

With 13 laps remaining, Bautista had increased his lead to 0.5s. Toprak was doing all he could to stay with the Ducati, and set a new fastest lap of 1:37.890. Would we see team orders come into play, forcing Lowes to let Rea through? The GRT Yamaha team mates, Gerloff and Nozane, were having a disappointing weekend and found themselves way down in 16th and 17th.

With 11 laps remaining, Bautista was once again ramping up the pace and set the new fastest lap of the race with a 1:37.789. He now held a gap of 0.8s to Toprak, who was doing everything he could to keep in contact. Meanwhile further back Locatelli (Pata Yamaha), came through on Redding into 9th. Bassani had caught the Honda team mates of Vierge, and Lecuona in 6th, and 7th respectively.

Over half distance now, and Bautista had increased his lead to 0.9s to Toprak. Bautista then put in the new fastest lap of the race with a 1:37.660.

With 7 laps to go positions were as follows; 1. Bautista 2. Toprak 3. Lowes 4. Rea 5. Rinaldi.

With only 4 laps to go, Rea did come through on Lowes into 3rd, Lowes didn’t try to respond, knowing his team mate needed the extra points. Rea wouldn’t be able to catch Toprak who was well away. There was then a three-way battle for 5th between Rinaldi, Vierge, and Lecuona. Meanwhile, Bassani was given a long lap penalty for his earlier incident with Baz, which he failed to take, and was subsequently given an additional long lap penalty. He rejoined the race down in 20th.

Last lap and Bautista crossed the line to claim his second win of the weekend, followed by Toprak 2nd. Rea 3rd, Lowes 4th, Rinaldi 5th, Vierge 6th, Lecuona 7th, Locatelli 8th, Redding 9th, Vd Mark 10th.

It has been an amazingly dominant season for Bautista, who has now finished on the podium in 27 of 30 races so far.

Next stop is Round 11 in Mandalika, Indonesia, and Bautista will be the World Champion if he outscores Toprak by 18 points, and Rea by a single point.

Result top 5:
  1. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati)
  2. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  3. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  4. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT)
  5. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati)
Championship top 3:
  1. Bautista – 507 points
  2. Razgatlioglu – 425 points
  3. Rea – 409 points

Feature Image Credit: WorldSBK.com 

Round 10 WorldSBK San Juan, Argentina, Race 1

Going into the weekend with a 51 point gap over title rival, and reigning world champion, Toprak Razgatlioglu. Alvaro Bautista could put serious damage into the hopes of both Toprak, and Jonathan Rea, of closing the gap with a strong weekend.

WorldSBK 22.10.2022 Alex Lowes Picture courtesy of KRT World SBK

However the championship leader would have to start the race from 3rd on the grid, after Toprak (Pata Yamaha) claimed pole with an unbeaten time of 1:36.216, followed by Rea (KRT Kawasaki) in 2nd.

Ideal weather for the start of race 1 then, with the Andean sun baking down onto the track. Lights out and it was Toprak with the hole shot into turn 1, followed by Rea, Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati), and Lecuona (Honda HRC) in 4th. And then massive drama as Toprak went off line, and way too hot into turn 9, sending his R1 plunging into the gravel. He managed to pick up his bike and rejoin the race at the back of the field. A huge, and potentially catastrophic shift in the outcome of this championship now for Toprak.

With 19 laps to go, it was Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) with an impressive start, and leading the race, setting a new fastest lap of 1:37.881 in the process. Positions were as follows: 1. Bassani 2. Rea 3. Lecuona 4. Bautista 5. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) 6. Redding (BMW Motorrad) 7. Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) 8. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT).

With 17 laps remaining, Bautista made a move on Lecuona, getting through to move into 3rd, and setting a new fastest lap in the process of a 1:37.5. The leading trio of Bassani, Rea, and Bautista were now pulling away from the rest of the field. Meanwhile further back it was: 10. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) 11. Vd Mark (BMW Motorrad) 14. Laverty (Bonovo Action Ducati).

Next lap and Bautista was beginning to ramp up the pace, he lined up Rea, and made a clean move, and up into 2nd. Rea had no response. Further back Redding was struggling, and dropped two places down into 8th. Gerloff was also struggling, and the Texan found himself down in a disappointing 15th. Toprak was still at the back of the field.

With 14 laps to go, Bassani held a gap of 0.3s to Bautista, the Spaniard was reeling him in however, and he moved through on the young Italian a few corners later, taking the lead. Rea knew he had to stay with Bautista, and made an aggressive move on Bassani into turn 10, moving into 2nd. The move surprised Bassani, the Italian now in 3rd. Drama for Mercado (MIE Honda), who crashed out into turn 14, and the local rider’s race was over. Meanwhile at the front, Bautista was increasing his lead, and now held a gap of 0.6s to Rea.

With 12 laps to go, Bassani had got back past Rea into 2nd, the speed of the Ducati again proving a decisive factor. Rea was growing increasingly frustrated, as he could once again see Bautista disappearing down the road.

With just over half race distance done, and with the lower fuel load, the Ducati was even quicker, and Bautista continued to ramp up his lead, the gap was now 2.7s. Positions were as follows: 1. Bautista 2. Bassani 3. Rea 4. Lecuona 5. Rinaldi 6. Lowes 7. Redding 8. Vierge (Honda HRC) 9. Locatelli 10. Baz.

With 7 laps to go, Rea was throwing everything he could at Bassani, but to no avail. The fight between Bassani and Rea suited Bautista, and he forged on, putting ever more time into the gap.

With only 5 laps left, Bautista put in the new fastest lap of the race with a 1:37.389. Meanwhile further back, Toprak had moved up places, and was now in 18th.

With 3 laps left, Rea finally made a move on Bassani that stuck, and he moved into 2nd. Bautista was 6s ahead, and no doubt had the win firmly sealed up.

WorldSBK 22.10.2022 Alvaro Bautistas courtesy of Aruba.it_racing

Last lap and Bautista crossed the line to take another dominant win, followed by Rea 2nd, Bassani 3rd, Lecuona 4th, Rinaldi 5th,Lowes 6th, Redding 7th, Locatelli 8th, Vierge 9th, Vd Mark 10th, while Toprak came in 15th claiming just the single point.

Result top 5:

  1. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati)
  2. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  3. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati)
  4. Lecuona (Honda HRC)
  5. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 473
  2. Razgatlioglu – 393
  3. Rea – 386

Round 9 WorldSBK Portimao, Portugal, Race 1

The earlier Superpole saw Rea (Kawasaki KRT) claim top spot with an unbeaten lap time of 1:39.610, followed by Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha), and Lowes (Kawasaki KRT) in 2nd, and 3rd respectively.

An earlier red flagged incident in the SSP300 race, forced race direction to delay the start of race 1, and subsequently cut the laps down to 14. This was going to be a short and sharp shootout, reminiscent of a Superpole race.

WSBK 08.10.2022 Portimao, Alex Lowes picture courtesy of KRT Kawasaki

Lights out then for the delayed start to Race 1, and it was Rea with the hole shot into turn 1, followed by Lowes, Toprak, and Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati).

Next lap and positions were as follows: 1. Rea 2. Toprak 3. Lowes 4. Bassani 5. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati) 6. Redding (BMW Motorrad) 7. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha). Further back it was Lecuona (Honda HRC) 11th, Gerloff (GRT Yamaha) 12th, and Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW) in 15th.

With 12 laps to go Rea was making the most of his good start, and was extending his lead over the reigning champion in 2nd, putting in the fastest lap of the race with a 1:40.604, and held a gap of 0.6s. After initially making a good start, Lowes now found himself down in 4th, after first Toprak, then Bassani and Bautista overtook him.

Next lap and Toprak had cut the gap to Rea down to 0.4s, and set the new fastest lap of the race in the process with a 1:40.328. Bautista was now in 4th, after coming through on Lowes, but he would have work to do if he intended on catching his title rivals out in the lead.

With 10 laps to go Rea only held a gap of 0.1s to Toprak, who in turn held a gap of 0.5s to Bassani behind in 3rd.

Next lap and Toprak makes an aggressive move on Rea into turn 1, the R1 getting out of shape and Toprak slammed under Rea, while the rear of the R1 was sideways. No love lost between the pair!

With 7 laps to go, Bautista, as was a familiar scenario this season, was finding good late race pace and passed Bassani to take over 3rd. This group of 5 riders had pulled out a significant gap to the rest of the field. Further back it was Locatelli in 6th, and Redding in 7th. Rea held a gap of 0.7s to Bautista behind.

With 5 laps to go Bautista had cut the gap to Rea down to 0.2s, and was soon going to be all over the back of the ZX10-RR.

Next lap and Bautista, after getting good traction out of turn 15, blasted past Rea down the straight and briefly into 2nd, although he over cooked it into the corner, and subsequently ran out wide, allowing Rea to retake the position. The intention from the Spaniard was clear however. Meanwhile further back it was Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) in 8th, Vierge (Honda HRC) 9th, and Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) 10th.

With 3 laps to go Bautista lined up Rea, and this time made the pass stick, moving into 2nd. Toprak was clear out in the lead, and held a gap of 1.5s, which you felt was enough to see him take the win. Meanwhile Lowes had found a bit extra, and was all over the back of Bassani looking for a pass.

Next lap and Lowes lined up Bassani, and made a pass, but the Italian snapped straight back into turn 5 to retake the lead.

WSBK 08.10.2022 Portimao – Podium: Razgatlioglu, Bautista, Rea, picture courtesy of WorldSBK

Last lap and Toprak crossed the line to claim the win, followed by Bautista in 2nd, and Rea in 3rd. Bassani 4th, Lowes 5th, Locatelli 6th, Rinaldi 7th, Vierge 8th, Baz 9th, Gerloff 10th. Drama for Scott Redding, who went down into turn 5, was able to pick up the bike and eventually crossed the line down in 18th.

Result top 5:

  1. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  2. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  4. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati)
  5. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 414 pts
  2. Razgatlioglu – 360
  3. Rea – 343

Round 6 WorldSBK Most, Czech Rep, Race 2

The earlier Superpole race, saw the reigning champion, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) claim the win, followed by Rea (Kawasaki KRT), and Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati), in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

WorldSBK 31.07.2022 Czech Rep Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha Brixx

Before the start of the race both Lowes (Kawasaki KRT), and Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW), were declared unfit to start.

Lights out for race 2, and it was Toprak with the hole shot into turn 1, followed by Bautista, Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati), and Rea in 4th. Bassani in particular, was looking really aggressive, and had barged through on Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati).

Next lap and positions were as follows: 1. Toprak 2. Bautista 3. Rinaldi 4. Rea 5. Bassani 6. Redding (BMW Motorrad). Toprak had already pulled out a gap of 0.6s, and was looking keen to get away.

Next lap and Rea out brakes Rinaldi into turn 1, to move up to 3rd. The leading group of 6 riders had already started to pull away from the rest.

On lap 4 of 22, drama for Rinaldi who over shoots into turn 1, losing the front end, and going down into the gravel. He was having a decent race up until that point.

Next lap and Bautista had now closed right up to Toprak, and was looking for a pass. It was Rea behind in 3rd who was setting the fastest lap time of the leading three, 1:32.206, and he was keen to not let either title rival get away. As he had in race 1, Redding was showing good pace, and managed to make a pass on Bassani, moving up to 4th.

With 17 laps remaining, drama for both Bautista and Redding, who both run hot into turn 1, running off the track. Both were able to rejoin, but lost positions in the process. Toprak, and Rea had both pulled away, and Bautista was able to rejoin in 3rd.

Next lap and Rea lined up Toprak into turn 1, and made the pass up the inside of the Turkish rider. Positions were as follows: 1. Rea 2. Toprak 3. Bautista 4. Bassani 5. Redding 6. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha).

With 15 laps to go, Toprak repays the favour, and out brakes Rea into turn 1 to retake the lead. Meanwhile, Bautista had closed the gap down to 0.5s in 3rd. Further back it was 7th Gerloff (GRT Yamaha), 8th Lecuona (Honda HRC), and 9th Vierge (Honda HRC).

With 13 laps of 22 remaining, Redding had closed back up to Bassani, and made the pass up the inside of the Italian into turn 1. Rea was again the quickest of the leading 3, and posted a new fastest lap of 1:32.202. Bautista had clawed his way back, and as in race 1, the Ducati was looking much quicker in the second half of the race.

Next lap, and positions continued to be exchanged almost every lap, this time it was Rea to make another move on Toprak into turn 1, and again he retakes the lead. The gap from Bautista in 3rd to Redding in 4th, had been increased to 1.5s, and it was now a straight battle between the top 3 title contenders for the win.

With just over half race distance gone now, the Ducati was looking increasingly quick, and Bautista powered past Rea down the straight to take over the lead. The Kawasaki ZX10-RR didn’t have an answer to the Ducati’s sheer top end speed. Redding had now lost contact with the group ahead, and was adrift 2.0s behind in 4th, with Bassani behind in 5th.

With 8 laps remaining Toprak again burst under Rea into turn 1 to take 2nd. Bautista however, wasn’t getting away as he had in race 1, with both Toprak, and Rea still right on him. Meanwhile further back, both Nozane (GRT Yamaha), and Hickman (FHO BMW Motorrad) were having a better race in 15th, and 16th respectively.

WorldSBK 31.07.2022 Czech Rep Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Next lap, and a demon on the brakes, Toprak was able to cut under Bautista into turn 20 to retake the lead. Bautista was struggling to match the speed he had in race 1, possibly suffering from tyre grip issues, and Rea was keen to find a way past. Meanwhile further back it was 4th Redding, 5th Bassani, 6th Gerloff, 7th Locatelli, 8th Lecuona.

With 4 laps to go, Toprak looked to have managed his tyres to perfection, and set the new fastest lap a 1:31.713, increasing the gap to 0.9s to Bautista in the process.

Penultimate lap and Toprak Razgatlioglu had increased his lead to 1.2s, setting a new fastest lap of 1:31.705. Late drama for both Lecuona, and Gerloff who both suffer mechanical issues. The Texan is able to rejoin, but only at the back of the field. They were both having a decent race until then, notably Gerloff who was running in 6th.

Last lap and Toprak Razgatlioglu crosses the line to take the win, followed by 2nd Bautista, 3rd Rea, 4th Redding, 5th Bassani, 6th Locatelli, 7th Vierge, 8th Oetll (GoEleven Ducati), 9th Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti), 10th Bernardi (Barni Racing Ducati), 14th Hickman (FHO BMW Motorrad), 18th Gerloff.

Result top 5:

  1. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  2. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  4. Redding (BMW Motorrad)
  5. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 298
  2. Rea – 267
  3. Razgatlioglu – 260

 

Round 6 WorldSBK, Czech Rep, Race 1

Rea (Kawasaki KRT) set the fastest time in superpole with a time of 1:30.947, followed by Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha), and Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) in second and third respectively.

Conditions in Most were much cooler then previous rounds, with the threat of rain hanging in the air.

Lights out for Race 1 and it’s Toprak Razgatlioglu with the hole shot into Turn 1 followed closely by Rea and Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati). Locatelli (Pata Yamaha), was having all kinds of early issues, and ran straight off the track into Turn 1, narrowly avoiding colliding with the leading riders.

Next lap and positions were as follows: 1. Razgatlioglu 2. Rea 3. Bautista 4. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) 5. Redding (BMW Motorrad) 6. Locatelli 7. Rinaldi 8. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT) 9. Baz (Bonovo action BMW) 10. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team).

With 20 laps remaining, it was Bassani in 4th who set the new fastest lap of 1:32.303. Toprak, and Rea were pulling away from Bautista who was struggling to keep contact.

Next lap, and it was the turn of Toprak Razgatlioglu to set a new fastest lap. Rea was still all over the back of the reigning champion and looking for an early pass. Meanwhile Rinaldi had a terrible start from 3rd and now found himself in 7th.

With 17 laps of 22 left Rea makes his move, cutting  under Toprak to take over the lead. The Kawasaki was showing good acceleration out of the corners.

Next lap, and Toprak responded by out-braking Rea down the straight into Turn 1 to re-take the lead. The constant battling at the front had allowed Bautista to catch up, and there was now a three way battle for the lead. Toprak made a mistake and ran slightly wide, and Rea was quick enough to snap back and take back the lead.

With 14 laps to go, Rea held a gap of 0.2s to Toprak behind in P2. Further back Redding was having a great race, and was now up to 4th after getting past Bassani. Positions were as follows: 4. Redding 5. Bassani 6. Locatelli 7. Rinaldi.

Next lap, and Toprak again retook the lead into Turn 1, out-braking Rea. A few corners later, Rea responded by cutting under Toprak to take back the lead. All the while Bautista waited for his chance to strike back in 3rd. With light rain now falling around the track, riders were allowed to enter the pits to change their tyres.

Credit: Kawasaki Racing Team

On lap 11 of 22, Bautista made his move, getting through on Toprak and then using the power of the Ducati to blast past Rea down the straight, moving from 3rd to 1st in a couple of corners. The Ducati, as it had all season, was again showing good late race pace. Redding and Bassani had caught the lead group, with five riders now vying for the race win.

With 10 laps to go, it was British rider, Redding who set the new fastest lap of 1:32.545. Further back it was: P7 Lowes, P8 Rinaldi, P9 Lecuona and P10 Gerloff.

With 9 laps to go, Toprak re-took Rea into Turn 1 to take over 2nd, while Rea was now in 3rd with Redding behind. Rea responded a few corners later taking Toprak. Next it was the turn of Redding to take Toprak into turn 20, moving into 3rd. Toprak was now in 4th, while Redding was having one of the best races of his season so far.

With 7 laps to go, Redding took Rea into turn 1. The gap to Bautista was now 0.6s and closing. The pace at the front was too high for Bassani, who had now lost contact with the group and was adrift in 5th.

Next lap and positions were as follows: P1 Bautista, P2 Redding, P3 Rea and P4 Toprak.

With 4 laps to go, Bautista looked to be controlling a gap of 0.7s to Redding in 2nd.

Next lap, and again Toprak takes Rea into turn 1 to take 3rd, while Rea was now in 4th. Meanwhile Bautista looked comfortable at the front, and had pulled the gap out to 0.9s. Redding had the bit between his teeth, but wasn’t able to reduce the gap to the Spaniard.

Penultimate lap and 2nd and 3rd places were still very much up for grabs. Bautista, barring any incident, looked to have the win sewn up.

Credit: Kawasaki Racing Team

Last lap, and Bautista crossed the line to take Ducati’s 1000th win in World Superbikes. Toprak made a lunge on Redding, cutting inside him and forcing him wide to take 2nd. Meanwhile Redding after going wide had to hold off Rea, which he did to take his first podium of the season. It was a disappointing result for Rea who took 4th. Bassani was 5th, 6th Locatelli, 7th Rinadi, 8th Lecuona (Honda HRC), 9th Lowes, 10th Gerloff.

Result top 5:

  1. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati)
  2. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  3. Redding (BMW Motorrad)
  4. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  5. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 271
  2. Rea – 242
  3. Razgatlioglu- 223

 

Donington Park World Superbikes Couldn’t Have Planned It Better!

This weekend we are lucky enough to host the British round of the World Superbike series at Donington Park in Derbyshire and as far as I am concerned, it couldn’t have worked out better for them and us. At the time of writing this, the old laptop is pointing towards a temperature on Saturday of 28°c, Sunday showing 31°c and it doesn’t look like the wind is going to climb over 6 mph all weekend. SAFE TO SAY YOU’RE GONNA’ NEED YOUR SUNCREAM AND A HAT!

WSBK Estoril Race 1 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Long hailed one of the jewels in the crown of British Racing, the 2.5 mile circuit winds its way across the rolling British countryside. Anyone who has visited Donington and walked down the Craner Curves to the Old Hairpin for example, will know it’s quite the hike. You are however rewarded by the stunning views and the spectating really does take some beating. Donington does cater well for slips, trips and falls with its gravel traps however it retains that “close to the track” feel that most British circuits, barring Silverstone offer. Hence Donington being a true fan favourite in person and on the TV.

The start of the season in World SBK has been anything (and everything) but boring. Unfortunately “boring” has been a moniker that the series has struggled to shake off it’s back in previous years. However, with some tweeking of the technical regulation by the series owner, to ensure the various manufacturers perform as closely as possible, and the recruitment of some seriously talented riders over the last 2-3 seasons, we have been served up nothing short of bar to bar, wheel to wheel, fairing to fairing, nonstop racing action AND IT’S ABSOLUTEY BRILLIANT!

Alvaro Bautista at Aragon 2022 WSBK. Image courtesy of Ducati

Jonathan Rea having taken a step this year aboard his Kawasaki ZX10R to ultimately close the gap (and overtake) last year’s World Superbike Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu on his Yamaha R1, plus the resurgence of the Ducati Panigale in the hands of returning factory rider Alvaro Bautista. Bautista has replaced regular race winner Scott Redding after he stepped away from the Italian Factory to race on BMW machinery for the 2022/2023 season. Bautista has taken the fight to both Rea and Razgatlioglu and put the dampers on any of Kawasaki and Yamaha’s hard work in the off season. After a string of hard-fought victories, the Spaniard holds a steady 36 points in the lead going into Donington on Rea with Razgatlioglu following another 43 points further back. Based on this alone, we are in for one hell of a treat this weekend.

The sweetener this weekend being the wildcards. The reigning British Superbike Champion, Tarran Mackenzie will make his World Superbike debut aboard a SBK Spec version of his McAms Yamaha R1. Taz was scheduled to debut at the Assen round of the world championship, however a pre-season training accident ruled him out of both Assen and even the opening rounds of the British Superbikes.

Speaking recently to worldsbk.com Tarran said “I am very excited to finally make my debut in the Superbike World Championship at Donington. It feels like it’s been a long time coming and I was obviously disappointed when we couldn’t do Assen. Donington is a special track for me as it’s only 10 minutes down the road from home, I’ve had some great success there in BSB so I am looking forward to getting out on a World Superbike-spec R1 and seeing what both myself and the McAMS Yamaha team can achieve. Obviously, there is a lot to learn with the engine and electronics, but I know the chassis well as my BSB bike is very similar. The level in World Championship is really high and I’m looking forward to getting out on track and giving it our all. I have to say a huge thanks to Steve and the McAMS Yamaha team, as well as Andrea and everyone at Yamaha Racing for making this possible.”

Joining the McAms team at Donington is the FHO Racing team. Peter Hickman will make his 3rd Wildcard appearance in the World Superbike series riding his very own motorcycle from the British Superbike series. As with the McAms bike, it will be running an upgraded electronics package to match the other race entrants with the hope of being in for the win.

In a statement released by the FHO Racing team, Peter Hickman says “I’m mega excited to get a chance to have a go at the World superbikes. I’ve done it twice – once in 2012 with Worx Suzuki and again in 2019 with the BMW World Superbike team but both times were last minute arrangements, jumping on bikes I had never seen before. This time I’ll be riding my FHO Racing BMW which I race in the British Superbike Championship so that will be good. We are having to work on raising the electronics package to World Superbike spec which will change things quite a lot which could be interesting, but we’ll see. I think it’s fantastic that we’re getting the chance to do this as a team and it’s all down to Faye. She’s owned the team for a year and a half and we’ve already done BSB, North West 200, Isle of Man TT and now we’re getting to do a World Superbike wildcard which is pretty cool. It’ll be good for everyone in the team to get to do a World Superbike round together. We’ve all done bits here and there not as a team, so I think it’s going to be a really great thing for us all.”

Also returning to the series is previous Kawasaki KRT rider and current Vison Track Kawasaki rider Leon Haslam, returning again for Team Pedercini Racing on their Kawasaki ZX10R. Not a last-minute decision. This has been in the making since the start of the season when Pedercini scaled back their two-bike team to a single bike entry and agreeing with Leon to join forces for four races this year. So far Leon has rode for the team at the Assen round where he scored 13th, 17th and 16th place finishes. Let’s hope Donington Park offers some home round advantage for Leon and he can pick up some much needed racing confidence after a somewhat disappointing start to the 2022 BSB season. Leon is also scheduled to ride for the Pedercini team at the Most and Portimao rounds later in the season.

WSBK Assen 23.04.2022 Razgatlioglu and Locatelli Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha

As for the other Brits, it goes without saying we hope that Scott Redding, Alex Lowes and Jonathan Rea have a great race. It’s been a while since we had a full compliment flying the flag for us on the world stage. It’s very nice to see some fresh faces being given a chance to shine. Well done to Yamaha, McAms, Kawasaki, Lucio Pedercini, BMW and Faye Ho for making the brave choices to invest further money into a sport famous for its expense. With the cost of living rising across the globe and the financial constraints placed on business in general, it’s a wonder we go racing at all.

Have a goodun’.

Racing Armchair

@racingarmchair

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