Reigning World Champion wins three races out of three at Donington Park as Bautista returns on the podium in Race 2.
In the final action of the weekend for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, it was yet another thrilling encounter from lights-out to the chequered flag. It was action right from the start, with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) coming out on top after another tough scrap with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing).
Heading towards Turn 1 for the first time, Jonathan Rea rocketed from pole position to grab the holeshot, ahead of Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing), whilst Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) blasted into third. At the Old Hairpin however, Bautista was passed by home-hero Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). Chaz Davies had a strong opening, running as high as fifth, right behind his teammate. It was a nightmare for Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) one lap later, as the Spaniard retired.
With the race settling down, on Lap 3, Razgatlioglu took the lead at the circuit where he took his first WorldSBK career podium. With a strong out-braking manoeuvre at the Melbourne Loop, he was able to pinch the advantage. However, two laps later, Rea took the lead back and one lap further on, Haslam momentarily got ahead of the Turk at the Foggy Esses. At the Melbourne Loop, Razgatlioglu recovered and the 22-year-old was back in second.
Razgatlioglu was able to retake the lead from Rea, with the two riders dancing side-by-side around the Donington Park circuit. Another late-braking move at the Melbourne Loop saw him retake the lead and then, putting the hammer down. Razgatlioglu and Rea broke clear of the fading Haslam in third place, whilst Alvaro Bautista was all over the rear-end of the five-time WorldSBK race winner.
With 12 to go, it was a rare error at the Foggy Esses from Toprak, allowing Rea to cut through and take the lead back from the young Turk. A lap later, and the battle for third started to ignite with Bautista taking the final podium position from Leon Haslam. With all the swapping, slowly but surely, Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha) was now closing down Leon Haslam, with Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) in sixth. Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was seventh from tenth on the grid, whilst Davies had slipped to eighth.
There was a change in the battle for fifth place, as Alex Lowes forced Baz wide at the Foggy Esses, with the British rider getting ahead into the Melbourne Loop. Even further back, double winner from Donington Park in 2018, Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team), got ahead of Davies for eighth place.
In the closing stages, there were two battles: for first and second between Rea and Razgatlioglu, and for third place between Bautista, Lowes, Haslam and Baz – with Lowes getting ahead of Haslam with just three laps to go. Going into the final lap, half-a-second split the leading two, whilst Bautista had a small buffer for a safe third place.
Coming to the line for the final time, Jonathan Rea completed a Donington Park hat-trick at home, the first triple he has achieved this season. Razgatlioglu took another podium with second and Alvaro Bautista took his first podium of the weekend, although he now trails the reigning WorldSBK champion by 24 points. Alex Lowes was fourth whilst Leon Haslam completed the top five, only just ahead Loris Baz.
Tom Sykes was the best of the rest, with Michael van der Mark taking a hearty, hard-earnt eighth, ahead of Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), who completed the top ten after a disappointing Prosecco DOC UK Round. Peter Hickman (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was 11th, ahead of Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team), with Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) and Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team) completing the points.
P1 – Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
“It was incredible, a similar story to Misano with Toprak in Race 2. It was really difficult, he was so strong on the brakes, but my team gave me a great bike and physically this weekend I felt really good, so I was able to extract the best potential from my ZX-10RR. In free practices, I was a little bit unhappy about the setup, and we were quite far away, 0.9 s from the fastest lap time, but step by step we arrived and three race wins, and back in the lead of the championship I can’t quite believe it. We will keep working like we are doing and we go to Laguna next week, which is another good track for us, but I enjoyed the atmosphere here. There were a lot of people here at Donington and now let’s see what happens”.
P2 – Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing)
“Yesterday with the wet conditions we didn’t go well. We tried a similar setup to Misano but I didn’t feel good on the bike and it was sliding a lot at the rear, so I was waiting for today because I was expecting a dry race and I felt really strong on those conditions. The Tissot Superpole Race was good but it wasn’t perfect. We focused on Race 2, which was more important for me. I did a good start, I followed Johnny and after I overtook him we had a small fight together but he was strong and fast. On the final two laps, I tried to attack him again but it was impossible. I am happy with another podium and now we see what will happen in the US”.
P3 – Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati)
“Today was important for us to finish the race. We crashed in Misano Race 2 and yesterday again. I knew it was meant to be a tough weekend for us because we are struggling a lot in this kind of tracks that are bumpy and with have poor grip. In the Tissot Superpole Race, I tried to stay with the front group. I pushed as much as I could and physically I was destroyed at the end of the eight laps because the bike was moving a lot and I had to put so much energy in trying to keep the bike straight and not lose too much time exiting the corners. In Race 2, I tried to do the same. I did a good start and remained with the front group. I pushed hard and had to use double my energy, but I managed to finish on the podium, and I am happy because we struggled a lot this weekend. Now we have to improve the weak points of our bike, but I look forward to the next race”.
#GBRWorldSBK at Donington Park: Race 2
1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
2. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) +0.365
3. Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) +5.930
Championship Standings after Race 2, Round 8
1. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Kawasaki (376 points)
2. Alvaro Bautista (ESP) Ducati (352 points)
3. Michael van der Mark (NED) Yamaha (206 points)
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