Bautista extends WorldSBK Championship lead as chaos strikes Rea and Razgatlioglu
There was drama everywhere you looked in Race 1, but it was Aruba.it Racing Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista who came out on top, further extending his lead in the championship.
Taking the lead of the race on Lap 7 of 21, Bautista claimed his first ever win at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, further extending his lead in the championship with a 56-point gap over Jonathan Rea.
Bautista took a calm approach to Race 1 after seeing both rivals make costly mistakes subsequently seeing them end up in the gravel trap, saying his focus was to then “not make a mistake, finish the race, and get a good feeling with the bike.”
Bautista: “I saw Jonathan crash, and then Toprak made some mistakes and then went into the gravel, so I decided to stay calm. Lap by lap, I started to feel better and better and decided to try and get the lead, get my pace and push to my feedback. I did a couple of good lap times to get some advantage with Scott, and then in the last laps I just had to manage the distance. It was an important victory especially here at a track that is never good for us.”
While it was glory for Bautista, it also felt like glory in the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team garage, with Scott Redding crossing the line in second place, making this his best result so far with BMW.
Race 1 of the Pirelli French Round also saw Redding’s 40th race start in the WorldSBK Championship, sealing that milestone with a podium.
Scott Redding: “In the race, I got a good start and I felt strong, and I thought “let’s go” and let’s get stuck in from the start. I think I took the lead at some point, and then Toprak came and passed me, and then Jonathan passed me, and then Jonathan crashed out… and I was pushing again to catch up to Toprak. Then I looked ahead, and he was just bucking and bucking. Then I found myself in the lead, and I thought ‘stay calm, push, find your rhythm’. I did what I could, but I had Alvaro catching me and I fought with him for as long as possible, but it was impossible.”
It was all also celebration in the Motocorsa Racing team, with Axel Bassani capitalising on Rea & Toprak’s mistakes to take his second WorldSBK podium finish, and his first podium in dry conditions with third place.
Axel Bassani: “Finally, we got a podium! It’s really good for me and the team; we made good work this weekend and I’m really happy! I want to enjoy the moment and nothing more. Now is the moment to ush and try and continue in this way. It will be difficult but we’re here for this and we will try. It’s really important for me to beat the other Ducatis, especially the factory Ducati. I think it’s normal; I want to continue in this way and I hope it’s possible to beat Alvaro and not just Michael.”
It was heartache early on for Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), crashing out of Race 1 on the exit of Turn 17 on the second lap after his front fork sensor touched the kerb on the left-hand side, picking up the front. Rea was able to re-join the race to finish 24th. Rea’s crash extends a winless run to 10 races; his worst since 2019 when he went 11 races without a win.
Things weren’t looking much better for reigning World Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) who also made a costly mistake in the early stages of the race at Turn 13. He was able to continue to cross the finish line in 11th place, scoring valuable and much needed points over Rea.
Toprak Razgatlioglu: “We started well in the race, but just the big problem for me is braking. In the race, I’m always changing the setting for the brake lever. I arrived at Turn 11, and it felt the brake lever was very close with my finger, and then at Turn 13, I’m feeling my finger and the brake lever very close again. I tried to brake the same as Turn 11, but the brake lever came more open and I felt too much braking and the rear went up.”
WorldSBK Results Race 1
- Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)
- Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) +4.079s
- Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) +6.751s
- Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +8.531s
- Garret Gerloff (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +9.022s
Championship standings (after Race 1 – Round 7)
- Alvaro Bautista (323 points)
- Jonathan Rea (267 points)
- Toprak Razgatlioglu (265 points)