Alvaro Bautista starts this WSBK season on the right foot with win in the rain at Phillip Island

Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) made a winning start to the Superbike World Championship. The defending champion was always in the best positions in a race that forced riders to run on rain tyres. He had a duel with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), but it was in the second half of the race that the Spaniard made the difference.

As the lights went out, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) was the man to start from first position. However, Bautista had a perfect start and was able to take the first corner of the race in first place. By the second corner, Razgatlioglu had already lost second place to Jonathan Rea. Right on the first lap, exactly at turn ten, Rea attacked and took the front of the race. The #54 finished the first lap in fourth place after Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) had climbed to the bottom of the podium.

Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) had a crash, and over the next few laps Rea was showing that he was capable of battling with Bautista. The top two riders were separated by one second with 19 laps to go. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) retired from the race on the next lap.

Over the next few laps, Bautista was able to keep up and close the gap to #65, and with 13 laps to go the lead changed hands; further back was Razgatlioglu. In fourth and fifth place were Lowes and Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK).

With eight laps to go, Lowes crashed and Locatelli moved up a position, allowing Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) to take the final spot in the top five; Rea’s teammate exited the scene on his own foot but limping away.

At the front, Bautista had a lead of 1.2/1.4s over Rea, who had been stuck to the back of the defending champion’s Panigale V4R for part of the race. However, with five laps remaining, it emerged on the official broadcast that Lowes was being seen at the circuit’s Medical Centre.

By the final laps, Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was 13th in a race for which he had started in third place. As for Bautista, the #1 rider had already strengthened his lead and with three laps to go, victory was assured.

Nothing changed until the end, and the Ducati rider actually won the first race of the year on a wet track that gave all the riders a scare. Rea was second and Razgatlioglu took the lowest place on the podium after being unable to get close to #65 and fight for second place. Locatelli and Bassani, the best independent rider, were just outside the top three.

Of note, after the race had finished the Stewards of the Championship informed that the incident between Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) and Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) on the final lap between turns 10 and 11 was under investigation. In the end, Petrucci lost position for ‘irresponsible riding’.


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