Alvaro Bautista returns to winning ways in Portugal 1The ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati rider beats Rea in final lap showdown in Race 2 at Portimao.

A thrilling Race 2 at Portimao fired the championship race back into life as Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) overcame a poor start and a shoulder injury to triumph over Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in a final lap run to the line. With plenty of drama from lights out and slipstreaming battles soon following, groups were scattered right through the field and provided a packed Portimao plenty of action.

Off the line and it was a blissful start for Rea from pole position but a disaster for Alvaro Bautista, who plunged down the order to sixth place after Lap 1. Toprak Razgatlioglu was a fast starter and up to second, ahead of Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). Alex Lowes was fourth (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) and teammate Michael van der Mark was fifth, ahead Bautista – but the Spaniard was right in the hunt as the group remainder close together.

Bautista soon began his comeback, first picking off Michael van der Mark down the front straight at the end of Lap 1, before picking off Alex Lowes two laps later. The comeback continued and he hit third a lap later, before slicing ahead of Jonathan Rea to momentarily lead with 15 to go. But Toprak Razgatlioglu had other ideas, as the Turkish rider hit the front of the field.

With Razgatlioglu and Bautista leading, Rea had to try and find a way to react to the change of the guard at the front. Leon Haslam was still in the mix with the two Pata Yamahas just sat behind, with the front six covered by just one second. A lap later, the horsepower of the Ducati propelled Alvaro Bautista back into the lead of a race for the first time since Misano, and the Spaniard soon began to put the hammer down.

Jonathan Rea fought back on his fellow Kawasaki rider Toprak Razgatlioglu, but whilst he closed up on Bautista, he wasn’t able to make a move on the Spaniard. Further back and at half race distance, isolation of the leading six began to set in. Alex Lowes made his move on Leon Haslam with 10 to go, after the ‘Pocket Rocket’ lost an entire second to his fellow Brit.

One rider to watch was Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha) as he closed on the battle for fourth. Behind them, Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) and Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) were squabbling over ninth, just behind Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK).

With the gap between Bautista and Rea extending to over a second, and Razgatlioglu sat in a safe third place – barring acts of God – the big battle on track was for fourth, with Alex Lowes and Leon Haslam swapping places with five laps to go. At Turn 3, Michael van der Mark parked his Yamaha in the way of Haslam, bringing Loris Baz right into play. Haslam fought back however, and a lap later at Turn 5 he was back into fifth place and chasing after Alex Lowes.

In the closing laps, the race began to come alive at the front, with Rea lapping quicker than Bautista and the gap coming down to less than a second, although with two laps left to run, it was beginning to look a little bit late for Rea to return to the front. However, his teammate – Leon Haslam was climbing all over Alex Lowes in the battle for fourth.

On the final lap, the gap at the front closed dramatically and Jonathan Rea was right with the Spaniard, but on the run to the line, Ducati power prevailed over Rea’s resilience. Bautista was back on top and took the verdict, winning for the first time at Portimao. Rea was second and Toprak Razgatlioglu took a tenth career podium in third. Alex Lowes held-off Leon Haslam but Loris Baz made it to sixth and beat Michael van der Mark. Lowes therefore returns to the third overall.

Marco Melandri putting in a hearty effort for eighth place, whilst Tom Sykes was able to beat Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) in the remaining places inside the top ten. Jordi Torres was eleventh and couldn’t return to the top ten, with Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team), Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) and Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) completing the points.

The gap comes down to 91 points in the championship race, but the battle for third is well and truly alive, with 45 points covering third to seventh. Who will come out on top in both battles however, is yet to be seen.

P1 – Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati)
“It has been a long time since my last win, so I feel extremely happy to be back winning. The last few races were not easy for me, but everybody has been supporting me, so I want to thank all the people who have believed in me. Today it was a tough race. I wasn’t 100% fit, and after yesterday race I haven’t a lot of energy left. In the final laps, I was fighting with the bike, the tyre performance dropped a lot, and I was destroyed. I am so happy about this victory”.

P2 – Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
“I saw Alvaro making so many mistakes, and it was enough to keep me motivated to keep pushing. Unfortunately, it was really strong today, and we couldn’t do the same, but I felt so good with my team. They gave me a great bike all weekend. We went back to the setting from FP3, and I felt a little bit stronger at the end of the race, and I could ride below 1′.43, so I am thrilled with our effort. Now I am looking forward to the next round in France”.

P3 – Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing)
“Yesterday it wasn’t a good day for us. I did a bad qualifying and had to start Race 1 from the thirteenth position, but this morning I worked hard with the team and used a different setup that helped me get into the fourth position in the Tissot Superpole Race. My focus was more on Race 2 because I wanted to get back on the podium today. It was a really good race, and I am happy with this result. Now let’s see what will happen next race”.

#PRTWorldSBK at Autodromo Internacional do Algarve: Race 2
1. Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati)
2. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.111
3. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) +4.576

Championship Standings after Race 2, Round 10
1. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Kawasaki (490 points)
2. Alvaro Bautista (ESP) Ducati (399 points)
3. Alex Lowes (GBR) Yamaha (249 points)





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