The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship racing action got underway with a shortened 20-lap Race 1 at the Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli” during the Pirelli Emilia-Romagna Round as Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) led teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi as the pair sported a special yellow livery in Race 1. Bautista had a five-second margin over his teammate has he made it 12 wins from 13 races in 2023 while Rinaldi added to his Misano podium count.
PODIUM FIGHTS: yellow replaces red on the rostrum…
As the lights went out for the 20-lap race, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) and Rinaldi looked to have got a better start compared to Bautista but the reigning Champion was able to hold on from the pair to keep the lead from pole position. The trio fought it out over the early laps of the race with Razgatlioglu aiming to pass Rinaldi around the outside into Turn 4 with the Italian defending to keep second place.
As the race settled down, Bautista and Rinaldi were both able to gap Razgatlioglu in first and second place respectively to claim a home victory for Ducati on a special liveried Panigale V4 R, with the bike running yellow colours rather than red to pay homage to Ducati’s history. The win was Bautista’s 44th win in WorldSBK and his fourth at Misano, while Rinaldi equalled his podium tally from 2022 with second place to take his fourth podium of the season. It was also the first win for a yellow Ducati since Sylvain Guintoli at Assen in 2012.
While the two Ducati riders checked out in front, Razgatlioglu had to withstand some early pressure from Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) and Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) but the 2021 Champion was able to resist that pressure before pulling out a gap over his rivals. As the race hit the halfway stage, Petrucci dropped Bassani behind him and started gaining on Razgatlioglu in the podium fight. By Lap 12, Ragatlioglu started pulling away from the Italian rookie to claim third place. Razgatlioglu’s third place means he closes in on a century of WorldSBK podium while it was Yamaha’s 349th race on the podium.
FIERCE FIGHTS: hard-fought race off the podium
It had looked Petrucci would claim fourth place, but his race ended when he crashed on Lap 15 at Turn 8, with his Panigale V4 R ending up in the gravel and his race was over. This promoted Bassani to fourth place as he equalled his best result of the season while the battle for fifth raged on behind him between Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team). On the penultimate lap, Aegerter tried to make a move at Turn 14 and looked like he got ahead of Rea but he ran wide and allowed Rea through. He then tried to make a move at Turn 8 on the final lap, but, again, ran wide to allow Rea to keep fifth place.
COMPLETING THE TOP TEN: aiming to build on Sunday
Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) battled up the order to claim seventh place after a fight with Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) in the early stages of the race, with the Spaniard having to resist Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) behind him after he passed the Australian rookie. Lecuona was able to hold off Gardner to claim eighth place ahead of Gardner in ninth, while Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) rounded out the top ten.
SCORING POINTS: hoping for a top ten on Sunday
Vierge was involved in a race-long with Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) with the Spaniard coming out on top ahead of Redding, who finished 11th but missed out on a spot in the top ten by just three tenths of a second. It was a difficult race for Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) who, until today, had finished every race in the top seven in 2023. He took 12th in Race 1, finishing ahead of Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) who put in a late charge to pass Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) in 14th. Home rider Lorenzo Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha) rounded out the points with 15th place.
HOUSEKEEPING: to note from Race 1
Tom Sykes (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) narrowly missed out on points on his return to BMW as he finished in 16th place, finishing almost a second down on Baldassarri. He was able to finish ahead of Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) who overcame a three-place grid penalty for irresponsible riding in FP3 to take 17th place ahead of Bradley Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) in 18th. Ray had to start from the pitlane after an issue on the grid which delayed the start and reduced the race duration from 21 laps to 20.
Tito Rabat (Barni Spark Racing Team) was 19th on his return to WorldSBK action, 16 seconds down on Ray ahead of him, while he was six seconds clear of compatriot Isaac Vinales (TPR by Vinales Racing) in 20th place. Ryo Mizuno (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) finshed his maiden WorldSBK race in 21st place.
Luca Vitali (Orelac Racing MOVISIO), replacing the injured Oliver Konig, and wildcard Gabriele Ruiu (Bmax Racing) both did not complete a lap of Race 1. Hafizh Syahrin (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) brought his Honda machine into the pits in the first half of the race to retire from Race 1.
The top six from WorldSBK Race 1:
1 Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)
2. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +5.221s
3. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) +8.971s
4. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) +14.285s
5. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +18.595s
6. Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +19.021
Fastest Lap: Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) – 1’33.901s
- From WorldSBK.com