Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) ensured Ducati had something to cheer in Race 1 at MotorLand Aragon as he ended a two-year wait for victory in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship while teammate Alvaro Bautista crashed twice. He first crashed from the lead before going down again on the final lap when in the points as his Championship lead was slashed by 20 points during the Tissot Aragon Round with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) securing second.
BAUTISTA CRASHES TWICE: no points for the leader, Rinaldi wins ahead of Razgatlioglu
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) got a good start as the lights went out but soon found himself bundled behind Bautista through the exit of Turn 1 and into Turn 2, and he was able to hold the lead despite being hustled by the six-time Champion throughout the first couple of laps. He was able to retain the lead and extend the gap to around six tenths, but his race unravelled on Lap 6. He lost the front of his Panigale V4 R heading through the Turn 8-9 chicane and crashed before re-mounting his bike. He was back in the race but well down the order, allowing Rea and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) to move into first and second with Rinaldi just behind. The reigning Champion battled his way back through the field to take 15th on the final lap but as, he looked to move for P14, crashed at the final corner on the final lap to not score points.
The pair remained nose-to-tail at the front of the field with Bautista’s teammate, Michael Ruben Rinaldi, within a second of the pair. Like the #65 did to Bautista, Razgatlioglu was husting the rider who’s replacing him next year at Yamaha and kept the pressure on his rival while Rinaldi started closing the gap to the duo ahead; on Lap 12, it was just four tenths. On Lap 13, Rinaldi made the move on the #54 into Turn 5 to move into P2.
Two laps later and Rinaldi made his first move for the lead as he passed Rea at Turn 5, but the Ulsterman responded at Turn 7 to retain the lead. However, on the back straight into Turn 16 Rinaldi made a second move and held the lead this time before breaking away from the chasing duo. At Turn 1 on the next lap, the #54 overtook Rea to move into second but he was unable to close down the #21 ahead of him. Rinaldi ended a two-year wait for victory as he took the win for his fifth in WorldSBK and his 21st podium. With Razgatlioglu taking second, the gap in the Championship standings closed from 57 points to 37. Razgatlioglu moves one shy of Carl Fogarty in terms of podiums with his 108th rostrum, while Rea took third for his 260th career podium; double the number of Troy Corser, the rider closest to him on the list.
A COMEBACK TO REMEMBER: Petrucci goes from 24th to fifth
Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) took fourth and finished only three seconds away from the podium but undoubtedly the star of the show was Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team). The #9 didn’t set a lap time in the Tissot Superpole session after a crash in the early stages and he started the race from 24th. He was already up to 17th in the first laps before he continued fighting his way up the order. He finished the race in fifth, gaining 20 places, and only 1.651s behind compatriot Locatelli. Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) continued his strong Aragon weekend as he took sixth, finishing almost seven seconds down on ‘Petrux’.
OVERCOMING PENALTIES: Lecuona in the top ten after double Long Lap penalty
Australian rookie Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) continued where he left off as he finished seventh, holding off America’s Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) by 0.245s as the Texan-born star finishing eighth. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) was ninth with Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) rounding out the top ten. The Spaniard had a double Long Lap Penalty to serve for a jump start and, after taking both, was down in 15th before recovering to the top ten.
SCORING POINTS: taking advantage of Bautista’s second crash
Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) fought his way to 11th place as he fended off a late charge from Xavi Vierge (Team HRC), with the pair separated by just three tenths at the end of the 18-lap race. Redding’s BMW teammate, Michael van der Mark, was 13th with Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) in 14th and completing the quarter of regular BMW riders. Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was the last points scorer as he benefitted from Bautista’s second crash, while he was only half-a-second behind Baz.
HOUSEKEEPING: missing out on points…
KRT stand-in rider Florian Marino (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was 16th in his first WorldSBK race in five years, finishing almost four seconds away from the points. He had a nine-second margin over Lorenzo Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha) in 17th while Bradley Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) was just over a second back from the Italian. Hafizh Syahrin (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) was 19th with Isaac Vinales (TPR Team Pedercini Racing), wildcard Gabriele Ruiu (Bmax Racing) and Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing MOVISIO) completing the classified riders.
Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was the first retirement as he brought his Kawasaki ZX-10RR machine into the pits in the early stages. Bautista was a retirement following his second crash while Eric Granado (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) had a technical issue.
The top six from WorldSBK Race 1:
1 Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)
2. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) +1.253s
3. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +2.837s
4. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) +5.902s
5. Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) +7.553s
6. Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) +14.427s
Fastest lap: Alvaro Bautista (Ducati), 1’49.556s
- From WorldSBK.com