From Pole, to 16th, to Superpole Race Win: Bautista’s slick tyre gamble pays off
The heavens opened on Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit right as the final WorldSBK Tissot Superpole Race for the 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship was about to get underway, delaying the starting grid procedure for several minutes.
The Tissot Superpole race had been declared a wet race, but with the sun coming out right as the lights went out, this ended up being a carbon copy of Race 1. In Race 1, the circuit started forming strong dry lines within the first 7 laps. Alvaro’s Ducati team looked to make frantic changes prior to the race commencing, with a dry line already forming down the main straight. This frantic change was soon realised to be a last minute change for the 2022 World Champion, who gambled the full Pirelli slick tyres for the Tissot Superpole Race.
With a timid field of riders unaware of the fast changing conditions out on track, all riders made it through the opening lap of the Tissot Superpole safely, but it was Bautista who got swallowed up fast, dropping all the way down to 16th position as they field crossed the line on the first lap. With 9 laps left to go and conditions changing fast, our Race 1 independent rider winner Garrett Gerloff made his way into 6th place, while it was Xavi Vierge who crossed the line on Lap 4 to be the first rider into the flat 38’s.
It wasn’t until the halfway point of the 10 lap race that Bautista’s late gamble proved to be the correct call. In just 5 laps, Bautista charged his way through the timid field to take the twelfth and final Tissot Superpole Race win for the 2022 Season. Bautista charged his way through, knowing he had to make quick work to gain on the front two of Razgatlioglu and Rea. Bautista ended up crossing the finish line with over 3.2 seconds to spare behind Razgatlioglu and Rea.
Alvaro Bautista: “I have nothing to lose, this was to have fun. I did the gamble at the beginning and it was crazy, fortunately, I know the track very well from MotoGP times, so I know with this kind of weather the track will dry very fast. I just thought why not try and now I am happy. At the beginning I had to be very careful, so many riders past me, so I could do nothing to stop them. When the track started to dry it was the opposite, I try to pass them as soon as possible I had a couple of moments in the race but at the end it came good. I am so happy because the gamble worked really well and I want to thank the team because they supported me. I enjoyed this race a lot, what happened this is one of the best races of my career.”
Toprak Razgatlioglu: “I am very enjoying this race and the first laps I followed with Jonny. I am not experienced with these intermediate tyres but after a few laps I see the track dry so it was a problem with the front tyre, I think everyone had this same problem. Congratulations to Alvaro it was a good gamble with the slick tyres directly. We keep fighting, second position is not bad, thank you very much to my team because they are doing a very good job this weekend. In this last race, we will just try my best.”
Jonathan Rea: “Alvaro charged and won the race but honestly for those watching at home that don’t understand, that the strategy that he did was big balls you know. So, fair play to him and his crew they made the right decision at a crucial time and for me the battle with Alex [Lowes] and Toprak, we were trying to manage the front tyre. I went with the wet front and coming around Turn 3 it’s so fast and it was like moving and tucking and just thought just ride and finish the race. On the last lap I come in and I thought maybe I can do something on the home straight, so I flicked back to the dry mode to try and get some acceleration but it wasn’t enough so third place is what we have here and hope we can go a bit better in race 2 today and see if we can finish the season on a high.”
Along with Redding, Philipp Oettl (Team Goeleven) pitted at the end of the warm-up lap to switch tyres, although he did not make the same progress as he finished in 16th. Oettl was penalised by 0.695s for a pit intervention time infringement, with riders required to spend 63 seconds between pit entry and pit exit. Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) had a storming start and was running in the podium places, but he pitted at the end of Lap 2 to change tyres. Like Oettl, van der Mark had a pit intervention time infringement and was penalised by 3.560s. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was another who opted to change tyres, with the Italian finishing second.
Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round, Tissot Superpole Race results –
1. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)
2. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) +3.285s
3. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +3.328s
4. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +6.670s
5. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) +9.238s
6. Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) +9.328s
7. Garrett Gerloff (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +12.173s
8. Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) +13.427s
9. Xavi Fores (BARNI Spark Racing Team) +17.416s
10. Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) +18.069