Despite regulation changes late last week, Spaniard Alvaro Bautista continued to dominate world superbike racing this past weekend in Assen, white-washing his opposition in Ducati red to win both races and clock up his 10th and 11th consecutive win.
With his 11th win, Bautista is now level with Jonathan Rea in terms of consecutive race wins – something the reigning champion only achieved last year – but no rider has ever dominated the beginning of a season like the Spaniard to complete 11 perfect finishes from the season get-go. It also puts Bautista level with Ruben Xaus, Regis Laconi and Stephane Mertens with number of wins in their WorldSBK career. His Assen number 11 gave Ducati their 352nd race win in WorldSBK and their 27th at Assen.
WorldSBK Race One: Bautista continues – win number 10
Never predictable, the weather in Holland Saturday proved erratic at best and a snow-storm forced the opening WorldSBK race to be postponed. Sunday though was a different story and sunshine greeted the riders and fans – the perfect playground to host a reworked schedule that saw the sprint dropped, to allow for the two traditional longer- haul races.
Despite changes to the regulations late last week, Bautista had the field’s measure and took race one – the first rider in WorldSBK history to take ten victories in the opening ten races. Jonathan Rea was second and Michael van der Mark in his home race, was third.
With the race firing into life, Alvaro Bautista took the advantage at turn one and led the opening few laps of the race. It was a brilliant start by Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), who was up to second position, demoting Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team), whilst Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was fourth. Rocketing through on the first lap from eighth, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing WorldSBK) was fifth by the end of the lap one, before getting his teammate for fourth at turn one at the start of lap two.
As the race settled down, Michael van der Mark began to drop back, unable to fight off a rampant Jonathan Rea. Soon, the Dutchman had Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) for company, whilst out front, Alvaro Bautista was beginning to stretch Reiterberger. Rea was starting to close but not enough to get on terms with Reiterberger straight away.
Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) was in a battle with Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), before starting to pull away in the middle of the race. Behind Sykes in the same battle were the leading independent riders, consisting of Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing). The two riders swapped positions rather aggressively but the Spaniard was able to stay head.
With five laps to go, ‘Pocket Rocket’ Leon Haslam had started to line up the rear end of Alex Lowes’ Yamaha, as the two continued to battle and fight. Despite trying to pull away, Haslam was able to remain with Lowes and eventually, with three laps to go, made the pass at the final chicane. However, a mistake by Haslam at turn seven allowed Lowes back ahead, making for a great last lap between the two.
However, at the front, it was business as usual for Alvaro Bautista, who made history to take the Assen win and become the first rider to win the opening ten races of a WorldSBK season. Jonathan Rea finished second once again in another damage limitation ride, whereas it home-hero Michael van der Mark who completed the podium – his first of the season. Alex Lowes put in the ride of his life with a determined fourth position, ahead of WorldSBK returnee Leon Haslam.
A fine ride by Markus Reiterberger saw him take a stunning sixth position, whilst Chaz Davies was seventh, a further 1.8s behind the German revelation. It was a big battle on the final run to line between Jordi Torres and Toprak Razgatlioglu, with the Spaniard holding on for eighth position and Toprak in ninth. A dejected Tom Sykes could only manage tenth.
Outside of the top ten, Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) was in eleventh, with Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) recovering to 12thahead of his teammate Sandro Cortese. Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) couldn’t replicate his Aragon success and was 14th, whilst Ryuichi Kiyonari (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) rounded out the points. Hector Barbera (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) was two laps down in 16th. Italians Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team) and Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) retired.
WorldSBK Race 1 Results: 1. Alvaro Bautista – ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati 2. Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK 3. Michael van der Mark – Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team
WorldSBK Race Two: 11 wins in a row for Bautista for a new WorldSBK record; Van der Mark second in front of home crowd
WorldSBK went to war on the famous TT Circuit Assen layout in the second traditional race of round four, with ten riders in the leading group in the early stages. However, after a fast start, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) couldn’t hold off Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) any longer, as the Spaniard charged ahead to take his 11th consecutive race win of the year. Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha) came in second, and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) was third.
A frantic first lap saw Jonathan Rea rocket through the grid from eighth and was already up to the lead by turn five, in what was an impressive opening few corners from the reigning four-time champion. Alvaro Bautista was placed in second but under some serous pressure from home-hero, Michael van der Mark. Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team) was also right in the mix during the opening laps, whilst Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) and Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) completed the top six.
The race unfolded, and Jonathan Rea was putting in a fantastic effort to defend from Bautista, standing the bike up on the apex of turn five in order to back Bautista up into the chasing pack. Chaz Davies was able to climb up the order and got as high as third, whilst Michael van der Mark was being pushed back down the order, to fifth.
On lap six, Bautista, who had been continuously probing and searching for a way ahead of Rea, made his move at the fierce turn eight, slamming his Ducati down the inside. The move rattled Rea, who needed to fight back straight away to get a hold of Bautista before he stretched away. The Northern Irishman was then passed by Chaz Davies at turn nine and Ducati were first and second at Assen.
Rea was soon back into the second place, getting ahead of Davies at the final chicane. Alex Lowes was still ahead of his teammate, but Leon Haslam was the rider who looked rather ominous, lapping quicker than the two Yamaha riders ahead. Just behind, it was another solid ride from Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) who was seventh for the majority of the race.
From the middle of the race, it was a phenomenal ride from Michael van der Mark, who was lapping far quicker than everyone ahead of him, including Bautista at one point. The Dutch rider was heroic, bridging a huge gap in short time to catch Jonathan Rea with just three laps remaining. At turn 13, around the outside, a brave van der Mark roared ahead, with Rea now facing losing more points to Bautista. As Rea went backwards, it was his teammate Haslam who suffered a similar fate after looking so strong, sliding back behind the BMWs of Reiterberger and Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team).
With the last lap upon us, Bautista had secured enough of an advantage to secure another win, and despite a desperate attempt by Rea at turn ten to get ahead of van der Mark – where they collided – it wasn’t enough, with the crowd’s favourite battling hard to remain ahead. Bautista took the victory but on a run to the line, Rea got alongside van der Mark, but the Dutch star held on ahead of the reigning four-time WorldSBK Champion. Fourth position was secured by Alex Lowes ahead of Chaz Davies, whilst Markus Reiterberger held off Tom Sykes on a run to the line for his second consecutive sixth position.
In eighth position, Leon Haslam struggled home, some 20 seconds behind race winner Bautista. He was only just ahead of the two Independent Kawasaki riders of Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) and Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing), completing the top ten in that respective order.
Outside of the top ten, it was Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) in 11thand Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) in 12th, whilst Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) could only manage 13th. Marco Melandri completed a miserable weekend in 14th after a fierce battle with those ahead of him, whilst Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) was the last point-scorer. Hector Barbera (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) was 16th ahead of Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team). Ryuichi Kiyonari (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) retired.
WorldSBK Race 2 Results: 1. Alvaro Bautista – ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati 2. Michael van der Mark – Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team 3. Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK
WorldSBK Championship Standings
1. Alvaro Bautista – 236 points (Ducati) 2. Jonathan Rea – 183 points (Kawasaki) 3. Alex Lowes – 126 points (Yamaha) 4. Michael van der Mark – 115 points (Yamaha) 5. Leon Haslam – 93 points (Kawasaki)
WorldSSP: Caricasulo takes his first flag
World Supersport at Assen proved to be another fair-bashing, head-to-head squabble, with nothing but pure action prevailing throughout the 18-lap encounter. In a group of six riders, it would be Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) who would take his first win of the season, to claw back points on his championship-leading teammate.
It was a frantic opening lap that saw Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) lead into turn one, whilst Randy Krummenacher slotted into second position. It was a rapid start for Austrian rider Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing) who was up to a mighty third position, whereas the same could not be said for Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team), who dropped down as far as eighth on the opening lap from second position on the grid. Hannes Soomer (MPM WILSport Racedays) maintained his starting position on the opening lap, with fourth position ahead of Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) in fifth.
Krummenacher took the lead of the race at the end of the opening lap, whilst title rival Jules Cluzel had pushed his way through the field to be fantastic second by turn six. It was a good opening few laps of the race for the (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) pairing of Lucas Mahias Hikari Okubo, running well within what started out as a leading group of nine riders.
The group then fragmented, with top five escaping and initially leaving Lucas Mahias behind. However, it was a strong mid-race that brought Mahias back in to the fight, bridging a big gap and setting the fastest lap of the race at the same time. Federico Caricasulo had begun his fight back and was already up to second, courtesy of mistakes of other riders. Raffaele De Rosa was also putting hard moves on riders, with a bold move at turn one for third position, shoving Cluzel off line and back to sixth and allowing Krummenacher and Caricasulo to momentarily escape.
However, just half a lap later, De Rosa crashed out at turn nine, under pressure from Thomas Gradinger and trying to get back in the fight for the lead. The Italian was OK, remounted but returned his MV Agusta to the pits for a second non-score of the WorldSSP season. Now with the leading group down to five riders, the gloves were starting to come off.
The final lap soon beckoned and having stalked teammate Krummenacher for the majority of the second half of the race, Caricasulo put in a classy, sophisticated pass at turn eight to lead the race for the first time with just half a lap left to go. Krummenacher rode closely for the remaining few corners but wasn’t able to get back ahead.
Caricasulo took the victory ahead of his teammate, whilst Thomas Gradinger made history for Austria as he gave the nation their first WorldSSP podium. Jules Cluzel was off the podium for the second consecutive race in fourth, whilst Lucas Mahias took his best finish in 2019 with fifth, a little over a second back of winner, Federico Caricasulo.
Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA) was a strong sixth position, holding off Hikari Okubo and Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing). Rounding out the top ten, Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) was ninth and put on a fantastic display in front of his massive home crowd, whereas completing the top ten was Jules Danilo (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda), who finished as top Honda, following a late crash for Estonian, Hannes Soomer.
Caricasulo gave Yamaha their 82nd WorldSSP win, whereas it was Italy’s 37thin the class, the first since Caricasulo won at home in Misano in 2018.
WorldSSP Race Results: 1. Federico Caricasulo – BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team 2. Randy Krummenacher – BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team 3. Thomas Gradinger – Kallio Racing
WorldSSP Championship Standings
1. Randy Krummenacher – 90 points 2. Federico Caricasulo – 73 points (Yamaha) 3. Jules Cluzel – 69 points (Yamaha)
WorldSSP300: Gonzalez wins ludicrous WorldSSP300 race
View report here www.worldsbk.com
WorldSSP 300 Race Results: 1. Manuel Gonzalez – Kawasaki ParkinGO Team 2. Scott Deroue – Kawasaki MOTOPORT 3. Jan-Ole Jahnig – Freudenberg KTM Junior Team
Australians: DNF. Tom Bramich – Kawasaki DNF. Tom Edwards – Kawasaki DNF. Jack Hyde – Kawasaki
WorldSSP300 Championship Standings
1. Manuel Gonzalez – 50 points (Kawasaki) 2. Scott Deroue – 36 points (Kawasaki) 3. Hugo De Cancellis – 31 points (Yamaha)