Bautista, van der Mark Score WorldSBK Wins in Jerez
The Acerbis Spanish Round in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship saw plenty of action at Circuito de Jerez. Álvaro Bautista scored his 12th and 13th victories of the season in front of his countrymen. However, he also posted his first DNF as a WorldSBK racer when he crashed out of Race 2.
Dutch Yamaha rider Michael van der Mark scored his first win of the season in Race 2 and became only the third rider to win this year in the sixth round and 16th race of the season. Though it was a rollercoaster weekend for Jonathan Rea — he was penalized a position and moved to the back of the grid for the Tissot Superpole race after making contact with Alex Lowes in Race 1, and he missed the podium in consecutive races for the first time since 2015 — the reigning four-time champion managed to make up a bit of ground on Bautista, who leads by a 300-259 count in the championship standings.
On the opening lap of Race 1, it was a frantic start as Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) took the holeshot and kept his advantage, despite Bautista trying to get around the outside. However, on the short burst between Turn 4 and 5, the Spaniard was able to get ahead of Rea with a well-executed move. At the end of the first lap, Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was a solid third, whilst teammate Michael van der Mark had fought his way ahead of Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) and was fourth.
Soon, the battle over third began to take place, with Michael van der Mark right on the tail of Lowes as the third lap started. Half way round the lap however, it was an unconventional pass at Turn 8 that saw the Dutchman get ahead of his teammate and lead the pursuit to Jonathan Rea, who was losing time to Bautista ahead and the Yamahas behind – even though they were dueling.
It wasn’t long before the Yamahas began to rapidly close down the reigning four-time WorldSBK Champion. The Northern Irishman had no answer for a rampant van der Mark, who passed him with ease at Turn 6 with 12 laps to go. Soon, it was Alex Lowes’ turn to get ahead of Rea, this time at Turn 2 as Rea made a rare mistake. However, Lowes made a similar mistake at Turn 5, allowing Rea to go back ahead at Turn 6 before a battle throughout the rest of the race ensued.
There were further battles down the field, with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) making a blazing start to the race, up to fifth from 11th. Despite this, Marco Melandri was making his presence felt, with a strong block pass at Turn 6 in the middle of the race, whilst Razgatlioglu got the Italian back a lap later at Turn 1. The battle raged for the rest of the race, with Melandri taking his top five in the end since he was third in Race 1 at Phillip Island.
With van der Mark clearing off and Bautista on the horizon, Rea and Lowes were left to battle it out right the way until the end of the race. With multiple clean passes as the two swapped positions, the last lap was the perfect opportunity for a desperate move from Rea, who needs as many damage limitation points as possible. With Bautista winning and van der Mark second, there were shenanigans behind as Rea’s desperate pass knocked off Lowes. Rea’s wave of apology was no consolation as Alex Lowes’ left hand glove had been ripped off in the accident. (VIDEO)
Rea was penalized one position, moving him off the podium into P4, and was moved to the back of the grid for the Tissot Superpole Race. Rea fought from the back to finish fourth in the 10-lap sprint while Bautista added win No. 13 to his mantle.
The Spanish rider from the ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati team breezed to victory on his home soil with a comfortable margin but there were plenty of battles behind the runaway rookie.
Into Turn 1 for the first time off of the line for the first time and Bautista arrived in the lead, whilst it was a bright start for Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) and Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), who made it into third position. Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was in fourth, with Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) and his teammate Michael van der Mark). After lap one, starting from 19th on the grid, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was up to 10th, with Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) in his sights.
Lowes was running in third when he suffered his second crash in as many races. Van der Mark was a man on a charge as he passed Haslam at Turn 6 on lap five, before then catching Melandri and passing the Italian at the same corner two laps later. A strong end to the race for Rea and Tom Sykes saw the Brits pass their fellow countryman Haslam in the closing stages too, remaining in that order until the checkered flag.
Bautista faced his first major adversity in a magical rookie season when he crashed out on the second lap of Race 2 with an uncharacteristic error. That set up a battle between van der Mark and Rea that resulted in van der Mark’s first win of the 2019 season.
With 15 laps to go, the top five were covered by a second but disaster struck again, this time at Turn 5, as Marco Melandri attempted an ambitious pass on Davies, resulting in both riders crashing out. Davies was clearly frustrated with his former teammate, as both of them lost the chance to achieve a good result with Bautista out. (VIDEO) Three of the main protagonists had suffered terrible results – Jonathan Rea was now looking like he was going to walk away from Jerez with a strong haul of points.
Michael van der Mark wasn’t prepared to let Rea have it all his own way, as the Dutchman took the lead with 14 laps to go at Turn 6. Jonathan Rea initially stayed with the Yamaha of van der Mark but couldn’t keep with the relentless pace of the 26-year-old out front, as 10 laps later, he had pulled out a two second lead. Alvaro Bautista had re-joined and was circulating in 16th position, ready to pick up the pieces in case anyone else was to crash out.
World Superbike will make its own U.S. stop when they return for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship GEICO Motorcycle U.S. Round with MotoAmerica on July 12-14. All five MotoAmerica categories will run in support. Tickets are available by clicking here or calling 831-242-8200.