Round One – Phillip Island
WSBK Race One
Alvaro Bautista had stolen most of the headlines this week but it was Jonathan Rea that produced a record-breaking Superpole qualifying lap to claim pole position for the season-opening Motul FIM Superbike World Championship, Yamaha Finance round today at Phillip Island.
The 32-year-old’s qualifying lap of 1m29.413s on the KRT ZX-10RR the fastest that a production-based superbike has ever circulated around the 4.448km grand prix circuit, besting his previous benchmark (1m29.573s) set in 2017. It’s Rea’s 17th pole position in WorldSBK racing, and his third at Phillip Island.
Leon Haslam (1m29.626s) and Alvaro Bautista (1m29.729s), joined Rea on the front row for opening 22-lap race of WSBK season 2019.
It was clear that Bautista and the new Ducati Panigale V4 R had the pace over one lap, but could it look after its tyres well enough to be in contention over a full 22-lap race distance…?
They are away!
Jonathan Rea got the holeshot and led the field through Southern Loop for the first time but Alvaro Bautista pounced at turn three to move into the lead. Haslam was third, Lowes fourth, Sykes fifth and Melandri sixth.
On lap two Haslam moved past Rea but a small mistake allowed Rea back through to second place shortly thereafter. Up front though Bautista was breaking away… By lap four his advantage had grown to a full 2.5-seconds while Haslam and Rea continued to dust each other up while they themselves were being closely stalked by Razgatlioglu, Lowes and Sykes.
Bautista pulling away…
Four laps later that advantage was out to almost five-seconds. Haslam was leading Rea and Toprak Razgatlioglu was in a strong fourth place ahead of Alex Lowes and Tom Sykes.
At half race distance, Bautista led by nine-seconds. Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam were virtually attached to one another in an ongoing tussle for second place, while Alex Lowes had moved forward to fourth place and was right on the tail of the KRT pair.
Leon Haslam then slid off softly at turn four, losing the front end mid-turn while in front of Rea. Haslam rejoined the race in 16th place.
Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes had managed to break away from Sykes, Melandri, Van der Mark and Razgatlioglu as that quartet battled over fourth place.
As the race wore on Rea streadily eked away from Lowes little by little. A little further behind Melandri had got the better of Van der Mark, Razgatlioglu and Sykes, pulling away from them and edging his way forwards towards Lowes in order to make a late challenge for the podium. Melandri did exactly that, over the course of the following lap he pushed his GRT Yamaha past the Pata Yamaha of Lowes but the Briton was not going to relent, and battled the Italian all the way to the flag for that final step on the rostrum.
Alvaro Bautista completes his domination of the race, despite backing off on the final lap his victory a massive 15-seconds over Jonathan Rea. Tellingly, Bautista was more than 25-seconds quicker over race distance than the next best Ducati, Michael Rinaldi in ninth.
Marco Melandri managed to outsmart Alex Lowes to the flag by less than a tenth-of-a-second to finish as top Yamaha and make it three different manufacturers on the rostrum.
WSBK Race One Results
- Alvaro Bautista – Ducati
- Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki +14.983
- Marco Melandri – Yamaha +16.934
- Alex Lowes – Yamaha +16.984
- Michael Van der Mark – Yamaha +19.179
- Toprak Razgatlioglu – Kawasaki +21.203
- Tom Sykes – BMW +21.488
- Sandro Cortese – Yamaha +23.018
- Michael Rinaldi – Ducati +25.580
- Chaz Davies – Ducati +27.124
- Jordi Torres – Kawasaki +28.214
- Eugene Laverty – Ducati +30.055
- Markus Reiterberger – BMW +31.859
- Leandro Mercado – Kawasaki +34.793
- Leon Haslam – Kawasaki +41.009
- Ryuichi Kiyonari – Honda +45.523
Tickets and on-circuit camping for the Yamaha Finance-sponsored WorldSBK round are available at Ticketek or at the gate. Gates open 8am Sunday. On-circuit camping open 24/7 for arrival and check in at any time… via gate 2.