BAUTISTA’S TITLE HOPES EDGE CLOSER DESPITE SATURDAY FALL
The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship title crown is inching closer for Alvaro Bautista [Aruba.it Racing – Ducati], who made a monumental Sunday comeback at the Tissot Aragon Round in MotorLand for the tenth round this season.
Although, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Reigning World Champion of Bautista, who’s winning hopes in Race 1 came to a crashing end, not once but twice, whilst leading the race. With Bautista’s race win hopes crushed, it was the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati teammate of Michael Ruben Rinaldi who ensured Ducati had a result to cheer for, taking home his first race win since Catalunya in 2021.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi | Aruba.it Racing – Ducati
“It’s incredible! At Aragon, strange things happen, I had my first race win here and then this victory today is one of my best, as I fought! It was a race where I had to manage the tyre and think a lot. There’s been some really dark moments this year but this is the best road to come back. I decided to not give up and here I am, really happy and enjoying this moment.
Bautista first crashed from the lead on Lap 6, tucking the front of his Panigale V4 R through the Turn 8-9 chicane. While he was lucky enough to be able to remount his bike and rejoin the race, his strong efforts to reclaim a Top 15 position ended in a very uncharacteristic way for the World Champion, crashing again on the final lap at the final corner. With no points scored in Race 1, Bautista saw his Championship lead cut by 20 points as the 2021 World Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu [Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK] came home in second. Rounding out the podium in Race 1 was Jonathan Rea [Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK].
Australian rookie Remy Gardner, who excitingly announced his resigning with current team GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK, crossed the line in 7th position, holding off Bonovo Action BMW rider Garrett Gerloff by a marginal 0.245s.
Bautista made it evident that his Race 1 blunder was put behind him, the Spaniard showed he was the one to beat around MotorLand Aragon, claiming the Sunday double win in both the Tissot Superpole and Race 2. With another two wins added to Bautista’s name, he moved himself into the top three in the all-time winners’ list, seeing him cross the line in first place for the 53rd time in his WorldSBK career.
Alvaro Bautista | Aruba.it Racing – Ducati
“I am so happy to get two victories on Sunday. Since Misano, I haven’t won two races on a Sunday! I’m happy, especially today, because I can reset from yesterday. We started from zero from the feeling I had and in Warm Up, I felt very good. In the Superpole Race, it was amazing with Jonathan, Toprak and myself. We did a great race with three different rear tyres, so the level was really high. I felt good as the pace was so fast and, in the end, I was able to overtake them both on the last lap. I thought I could fight for the victory and I just tried, without thinking about anything else. I’m happy as I did my best.
With Toprak Razgatlioglu sitting second in the Championship ladder and capitalising on his Race 1 mistake, he made it clear he was not letting Bautista out of his sites in Race 2 to ensure the title fight remained open. Andrea Locatelli [Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK] had other ideas, putting it all on the line against his teammate throughout the 18-lap race after a hot pursuit on the opening few laps.
While Locatelli found himself in the lead, Bautista came charging on Lap 2 to pull a lead from the rest of the pack, with Locatelli then finding himself in a three-way battle for the podium against Razgatlioglu and Rea, and a late charging Rinaldi.
Razgatlioglu got ahead of his teammate on Lap 15 before the #55 was forced to bring his bike into the pits after a technical issue with this Yamaha YZF-R1 machine, dropping the Italian out of contention after a strong performance to keep his teammate behind. This promoted Rinaldi to the third and final podium spot, although he did lose time to Razgatlioglu and was unable to close the gap to the 2021 Champion. Locatelli received the black flag with orange disc when the problem became apparent but returned his bike to the pitlane. For not respecting the flag when it was first shown earlier in the lap, the FIM Stewards penalised him with a back of the grid start for his next race.
Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was another who had a good weekend as he took ninth, finishing as the second Yamaha rider, while Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) made a late-race move on Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) to claim tenth. The two BMW stars were separated by just six tenths at the end of the race.
Remy Gardner: “Yeah it has been a positive yet frustrating weekend. For sure I think we could have had a top 5 in the long race [Race 2]. I made a good start in the sprint with good pace but unfortunately at Turn 8 I was t-boned by Xavi Vierge and I had to take the escape road. I fought back to 10th but it was not enough and for the grid had to start Race 2 from 11th. We lost too much time in the first lap with the BMW’s [in race 2] and then after that, the pace was really strong so I had pace to be Top 5. Anyway, it’s coming step by step and the theme overall is that we need to improve qualifying even more. Hopefully in Portugal we can make another step.”
- Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 504 points
- Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) 457
- Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 328
- Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) 275
- Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) 237
- Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 213
- Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 123.