24 February 2019
Spanish superstar Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) has won the first ever sprint race in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, winning today’s 10-lapper at the Yamaha Finance round at Phillip Island ahead of Kawasaki pair Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam.
Just a day after becoming the first rider to win his maiden WorldSBK race, Bautista was again at the peak of his powers on the all-new Ducati Panigale V4 R, although world champion Rea didn’t let him have it all his own way.
Rea led over the line on the opening two laps and then edged his ZX-10RR in front a few more times before Bautista eventually control – but that didn’t stop the Northern Irishman setting a new lap record of 1min30.075secs on lap eight at an average speed of 177.65km/h.
That obliterated the previous record of 1:30.848, set by Marco Melandri in 2018. In fact, the existing lap record was broken 17 times in race two: Bautista and Rea both six times, and Haslam five times.
Bautista won by 1.176 seconds over Rea, with Haslam another four seconds arrears in third.
“I enjoyed today’s race more than yesterday because I had a good battle with Johnny,” said Bautista. “I expected a strong fight, and the pace was very strong because we didn’t need to worry about tyre consumption.”
Alex Lowes then led a freight train of Yamahas across the finish line, as he finished fourth ahead of Michael van der Mark, Melandri and rookie Sandro Cortese.
Ducati trio Michael Rinaldi, Eugene Laverty and world No. 2 Chaz Davies completed the top 10, while Aussie Troy Herfoss (Honda) was 16th.
Meanwhile, there was a three-way crash at turn four on the last lap between Kawasaki men Jordi Torres, Leandro Mercado and Toprak Razgatlioglu, with Torres the only one able to remount and finish 17th.
The third and final WorldSBK race, in the traditional 22-lap format, will be held at 3:00pm.
1. Alvaro Bautista Ducati
2. Jonathan Rea Kawasaki + 1.176
3. Leon Haslam Kawasaki +5.072
4. Alex Lowes Yamaha +6.713
5. Michael van der Mark Yamaha +6.800
6. Marco Melandri Yamaha +7.904
7. Sandro Cortese Yamaha +8.224
8. Michael Rinaldi Ducati +10.944
9. Eugene Laverty Ducati +12.416
10. Chaz Davies Ducati +14.068
16.Troy Herfoss Honda +48.731