Round One – Phillip Island
Alvaro Bautista again sprinted away from the field when the lights went out at 1500 on Sunday afternoon for the third and final World Superbike race of the opening round of the championship staged at Phillip Island over the last weekend in February.
KRT duo Leon Haslam and Jonathan Rea gave chase, but a consistent string of 1m30s from Bautista across the opening laps proved too much for them to contend with.
Behind the Kawasaki Racing Team pair it was a battle for supremacy amongst the Yamaha riders. Melandri and Van Der Mark proving too quick for Lowes in this one as they tussled over fourth position.
Melandri won the battle for Yamaha supremacy, breaking away from Van Der Mark and as the race approached the halfway marker Melandri was starting to attack the KRT double-act. Up front Bautista was leading by eight-seconds, and in a different race…
Rea had followed Haslam for the first 15 laps before finally making his way past his team-mate, Haslam was having none of it though and pushed back through at turn four. That little tussle had allowed Melandri to really start nipping at their heels. Early on the next lap though Haslam ran in way too deep at turn one allowing Rea back through, it was a great recovery though and Haslam was back with him by the exit of Southern Loop. Bautista was halfway to the airport by this time…
The battle for the other spots on the rostrum though was really warming up. With four laps remaining nothing separated Rea, Haslam and Melandri while Michael Van der Mark has also joined that party.
Haslam and Rea responded to the Yamaha challenge though by pulling their finger out and gapping Melandri and Van der Mark.
As Rea and Haslam got the last lap board Bautista was boarding his plane home… In reality he led by almost 20-seconds, despite backing the pace right off in the closing laps, and rolling out of the throttle to cruise to the line and take the chequered flag still with a buffer of 12-seconds over the KRT duo.
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