The 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship title race took yet another twist and turn around the undulations of the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. In a dramatic opening few laps, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) led the ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati pairing of Chaz Davies and Alvaro Bautista, before another unthinkable error blew the championship wide open once again.
Off the line, it was a strong start from Rea, and the reigning four-time WorldSBK Champion held the advantage from Bautista and Davies. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) made a blistering start and was fourth by Turn 5, whilst Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), despite an initially good start, was back in fifth. Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) held his own off the line. Into the penultimate corner on the opening lap, Davies got ahead of Bautista and went in pursuit of Jonathan Rea.
New lap records came thick and fast, with Davies initially setting it on Lap 2 before his teammate bettered on Lap 3, becoming the first rider to set a 1.22s lap in race trim. One lap later and it was a disaster for Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), as the British rider hit the deck at the Corkscrew.
At the beginning of Lap 5, Davies challenged Rea and through Turns 1 and 2, the Welshman took the lead but ran wide, with Rea slicing back through and sitting the Ducati rider up. Alvaro Bautista was right in the mix and beginning to get into the swing of things but then, a disaster. Bautista crashed once again in the early stages of the race on a full tank of fuel. The Spaniard tucked the front at Turn 5 and his Ducati Panigale V4 R was in the gravel once again.
With Bautista re-joining but out of the leading group, Jonathan Rea edged clear of Chaz Davies, with the top two stabilising until the end of the race, with Rea taking his race lead up to five seconds. Toprak Razgatlioglu was up in third place and despite a mid-race charge from Sykes, he held on to complete the top three.
Battles were strewn all the way through the field, starting with Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) pipping Jordi Torres for fifth in the final few laps. Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) put in a strong ride to seventh from 15th on the grid, getting ahead of Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha).
Further back, Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) recovered from his worst Tissot Superpole in 17th to get to ninth. Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) was enjoying a good battle with Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) over 11th. The battle for 13th went the way of Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team), who pushed ahead of Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK).
Back at the front, it was an eighth win of 2019 for Jonathan Rea, who romped home ahead of Davies and Razgatlioglu. Tom Sykes was fourth ahead of Alex Lowes, whilst Jordi Torres took his best result of the season in sixth, with two Independent riders inside the top six. Van der Mark and Baz were next up in seventh and eighth, whilst Marco Melandri and Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) completed the top ten.
The championship advantage now increases for Rea, with a 49-point lead over rival Alvaro Bautista.
P1 – Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
“I want to thank all my crew, they gave me such a good bike here, and I felt good. Physically I was just heading my points and I could have ridden the bike all day long because I was having so much fun. The tyre dropped a little towards the end, but I had the job done. As soon as I snapped the cord, I was able to focus on myself and hit the point. It is a massive privilege to be here in the U.S., racing here under the sun, and I love this track, so let’s see tomorrow if we can try to repeat this performance, but it is going to be tough for sure”.
P2 – Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati)
“We had a testing few rounds with a lot of difficulties, so it’s great to be back in parc fermé again. I missed this place! It was a tough race actually. I chose the soft rear tyre, which maybe wasn’t the best move, but it was a risk I wanted to take since I don’t have a lot to lose. So, I thought that I’d try to go away and try to use that tyre to the best effect in the early laps, but in the end, Johnny was in front, and I couldn’t see a way around. Then my tyre dropped, and I only had to try staying a little bit more constant. Nother than less, it was a good effort compared to the last few races, and I am really happy to be up here again”.
P3 – Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing)
“I am extremely pleased with this result today. Last year I suffered a big crash here, and this year we are on the podium! I knew that today getting on the rostrum would not be easy to achieve, but we took advantage of Bautista’s mistake. I tried to follow Johnny and Chaz then, but my bike was moving and sliding a lot. Maybe for tomorrow, we will make some changes to the bike setup to improve the tyre consumption, but for today I am really happy”.
#USAWorldSBK at Laguna Seca: Race 1
1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
2. Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) +5.693
3. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) +12.721
Championship Standings after Race 1, Round 9
1. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Kawasaki (401 points)
2. Alvaro Bautista (ESP) Ducati (352 points)
3. Michael van der Mark (NED) Yamaha (215 points)
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