Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) completed a remarkable Sunday turnaround as he made MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship history with his 18th win of the 2023 season as title rival Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) crashed out from the lead after initially resisting pressure from the reigning Champion. It gave Bautista a 25-point swing in the Championship standings as the #1 wrote his name into the record books.
CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLE TWISTS: Bautista wins, Razgatlioglu crashes
Bautista didn’t get away well from the line well as the lights out went but still found himself into the lead heading into Turn 1, before he tried to pull out a gap. In the early stages, Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) battled hard over second with Rea making a move on the #54 at the first chicane on Lap 4 before the 2021 Champion responded almost immediately. From there, the Yamaha star closed the gap on Bautista where they had a barnstorming battle.
The pair were often looking to switch positions with Razgatlioglu claiming the lead on Lap 7 at Turn 13 with Bautista staying close and looking to make a move at Turn 1, but the Turkish star was able to respond under braking at the chicane. On Lap 12, Bautista’s tactic changed as he looked to pass his rival at Turn 20 on the inside, but the Yamaha rider responded through Turn 21 before the pair were battling under braking into Turn 1.
However, on Lap 17, Razgatlioglu’s race came to an end. He had a highside heading out of Turn 2 and into Turn 3 which forced him to retire while leading. This allowed Bautista to claim victory by more than four seconds and gain 25 points on his rival, with the Championship gap expanding to 74 points. The win was his 50th in WorldSBK, but it was also a historic one: the 18th win of his season means he has now won more races in one season than any other rider.
THE PODIUM FIGHT: 0.134s between three riders
The battle for second went down to the wire with three riders separated by 0.134s across the line. Rea had been in second after Razgatlioglu’s crash but his pace was slower than Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) and Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) as the two Italians closed in on the Kawasaki. On the final lap, Petrucci went around the outside of Turn 21 and got a much better run down the straight to pip Rea to second by just 0.073s. Bassani, who lost a heap of time when he ran through the gravel at the chicane in the early stages, was 0.061s off the podium. Second place gave Petrucci his third podium in WorldSBK and his second of the Czech Round while Rea moved onto 256 career podiums.
RESPONDING IN STYLE: climbing up the order
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) secured fifth place after dropping away from the podium fight in the closing stages, while Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) concluded the strongest weekend of his WorldSBK career with sixth as he finished three seconds down on Rinaldi. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) bounced back from his Tissot Superpole Race crash, and a grid slot outside of the top nine, to finish in seventh. He was ahead of Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) in eighth, the best BMW rider, while Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) claimed top Honda honours with ninth. Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) completed the top ten.
IN THE POINTS: dropping down but scoring points
Rookie Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was just half-a-second away from a place in the top ten as he came home in 11th while fending off Iker Lecuona (Team HRC). The Spanish rider was less than a tenth away from the double WorldSSP Champion as he finished 12th, while Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) and Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) duelled it out for 13th. Lowes was running in the top ten in the early stages but dropped down the order before coming home in 14th, 16 seconds clear of Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) who concluded his comeback round in the points.
HOUSEKEEPING: classified riders and retirements
Substitute rider Roberto Tamburini (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) was nine seconds behind the Dutchman as he finished in 16th, ahead of Spanish duo Isaac Vinales (TPR Team Pedercini Racing) and Tito Rabat (Barni Spark Racing Team). Estonia’s Hannes Soomer (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) was 19th while Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) was 20th and two laps down. The American crashed at Turn 1 on Lap 1 and, while he re-joined the race, he spent two laps in the box.
Eric Granado (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) retired after a Turn 7 crash on Lap 2 as his race came to a premature end, while Lorenzo Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha) crashed on Lap 4 at Turn 1 which put the Italian out of the race. Home hero Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing MOVISIO) brought his Kawasaki machine into the pits in the early stages to retire.
PIRELLI REVEAL CAUSE OF RAZGATLIOGLU’S CRASH: post-race statement
Discussing what caused Razgatlioglu’s crash, Pirelli’s Motorcycle Racing Director, Giorgio Barbier, said: “In WorldSBK Race 2, with the new C0567 rear specification, we recorded three cases of blistering: Rea, Gardner and Razgatlioglu. For the first two, the blisters were extremely small and had no effect on the performance and race result, whereas in Razgatlioglu’s case, the tyre had two more evident blisters and the telemetry data shows sudden deflation of the tyre. Even if the Yamaha rider’s race pace was extremely high and none of the other riders’ tyres show any signs of stress or wear, these types of episodes clearly must not occur, so we will conduct an in-depth laboratory analysis of the three tyres with blistering to figure out what may have caused it.”
The top six from WorldSBK Race 2:
1. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)
2. Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) +4.652s
3. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +4.725s
4. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) +4.786s
5. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +7.538s
6. Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +10.717s
Fastest Lap: Toprak Razgatlioglu (Yamaha), 1’31.951s
1. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 427 points
2. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) 353
3. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 251
4. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) 227
5. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) 207
6. Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) 155
- From WorldSBK.com