Bautista untouchable in dramatic Superpole Race in Australia
The sun was shining down on the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit as the first 10-lap Tissot Superpole Race, and the first dry race, got underway at the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round. While it was a celebration for the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team, it was heartbreak for the GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team.
With the results of the Tissot Superpole Race determining the grid positions for Race 2 this afternoon at 4pm, it was all on the line. It was domination once again for Alvaro Bautista [Aruba.it Racing – Ducati], who led the way as soon as the lights went out.
Bautista received his first gap from the group as the pack entered Turn 4 of the opening lap of the race after a tussle between six-time World Champion Jonathan Rea [Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK], and double World Supersport Champion Dominique Aegerter [GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team]. A committed dive under brakes from Aegerter saw the Yamaha and Kawasaki rider collide, with Rea coming worse off from the clash finding him down the order in ninth. Aegerter came off better, finding himself rejoining the track in sixth place on the opening lap.
Further up the front it was Sam Lowes [Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK] who once again showed an impressive sprint race pace, finding himself in a fight for fourth. Less than two tenths separated the top 4 riders of Bautista, Lowes, Toprak Razgatlioglu [Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK], Michael Ruben Rinaldi [Aruba.it Racing – Ducati] and Dominique Aegerter [GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team].
The next pack to follow was a fight between Remy Garder [GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team] and Andrea Locatelli [Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK]. The pair managed to work together to fight their way up to pecking order and tag onto the fight for third. While Rea was still pushing hard to fight back his lost positions on the opening lap.
The drama then unfolded at the halfway point – Gardner pushed hard to find his way into podium contention, but a last minute dive into Turn 4 resulted in a hard hitting clash into the back of his teammate, Dominique Aegerter.
Both riders were okay and able to pick up their GYTR GRT Yamaha machines, but both were unable to rejoin the race, resulting in DNF for the pairs first WorldSBK Tissot Superpole Race.
This clash further allowed Michael Ruben Rinaldi and Toprak Razgatlioglu to make a clear run and break away from the hard charging pack behind.
The fight for fourth was run all the way to the line between Alex Lowes and Andrea Locatelli.
Further at the front, it was Alvaro Bautista who crossed the chequered flag first, followed by his teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi, and top Toprak Razgatlioglu who rounded out the top three; also forming the front row for Race 2 of the WorldSBK.
Written by Tayla Relph. Images by Russell Colvin