Spanish Aruba Ducati rider Alvaro Bautista was in the league of his own in race 1 at Phillip Island today to give brand new Ducati V4 R his first win.
Alvaro Bautista, who was making his World Superbike debut after 9 years of racing in MotoGP, gave his team and Ducati a lot reasons for joy today, as he won opening race of the championship by 14.9s after taking the lead on the first lap of the 22 laps long race, cementing his status as preseason favourite, despite being beaten by both factory Kawasaki riders in qualifying. Winning the race also meant that Bautista was the first series rookie since Suzuki’s Max Biaggi in 2007 to win on their series debut.
Behind very dominant Spaniard, who after taking the lead 3 corners into the race and haven’t looked back since, there was very intense fight brewing between factory KRT duo of Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam, who were joined by Pata Yamaha rider Alex Lowes, Puccetti Kawasaki’s Toprak Razgatlioglu and BMW rider Tom Sykes to create five way battle for podium in first half of the race, with battle between Rea and Haslam ending 10 laps to go on lap 12 out of 22, as reigning British Superbike champion crashed at Honda corner. He managed to rejoin the race to eventually finish in P15, scoring last point. After Haslam was eliminated from battle for the podium, Alex Lowes decided it’s time to show his cards in next few laps, as Razgatlioglu and Sykes began to fade and dropping into clutches of GRT Yamaha of Marco Melandri and second Pata Yamaha rider Michael van der Mark, as both Yamaha men were on late charge to the front. Rea eventually managed to escape the Yamaha’s to finish second, with Melandri beating Lowes on last lap to round up the podium places, with Lowes and van der Mark completing top 5.
Behind top 5 it was Razgatlioglu who managed to halt mid race slump and fend of Sykes to finish sixth, with BMW newcomer finishing right behind him in seventh. Second GRT Yamaha of German rookie Sandro Cortese finished the race in strong P8 and ahead of two Ducati’s V4 in form of Barni Ducati’s Michael Ruben Rinaldi and Aruba Ducati’s Chaz Davies, who managed to recover after disastrous qualifying, gaining six place to complete the top 10. Pedercini Kawasaki rider Jordi Torres was eleventh in a strong showing for the Spaniard, who was even running inside top 10 during the race, finishing ahead of GoELeven’s Eugene Laverty, who ended up in P12. Second BMW of Markus Reiterberger was the next man crossing the line in what was brave effort by young German, who is dealing with strong back and left shoulder pain, courtesy of few injuries over last 3 years. Orelac Kawasaki rider Leandro Mercado and recovering KRT rider Leon Haslam were the last riders in points. Race 1 was a bit of a disaster for returning factory Honda squad as Leon Camier retired from the race 14 laps to go after falling on turn 2, while Ryuichi Kiyonari and Alessandro Delbianco finished the race in P16 and P17, 45s and 1 lap down on winner Bautista.
Superpole race and Race 2 happen at 1am and 4am UK time on Sunday.
Race 1 results:
Featured Image Credit: World SBK