Alvaro Bautista’s winning streak continued at Chang International Circuit for Round 2 of the WorldSBK Championship, taking three wins from three races, to maintain his unbeaten record, which he kicked off at Round 1 in Australia with dominating form.

The Spanish rider had his work cut-out in race one before moving through to take the lead and eventual win with 12 laps to go, whilst in the Tissot Superpole Race, a small battle soon saw Bautista pull away before a red flag. In race two, it was a lights-to-flag victory like those we saw in Australia, emphasising his outright pace in all scenarios.

Alvaro Bautista - Image by GeeBee

Alvaro Bautista – Image by GeeBee

Alvaro Bautista later saying, ““Three wins, three fastest laps and Superpole means that it has been a perfect weekend for me! We knew that it was going to be an important race because Kawasaki have won here so many times, but the whole team worked well with the bike over the weekend and it all came good. It wasn’t easy however because the Panigale V4 R is new everywhere we go and everything has to be discovered from scratch. Right from the beginning I had great confidence with the bike and only made small adjustments for the set-up we know. I just want to say thanks to my team and all the people in Ducati because they have done a fantastic job, I’m so happy! Now we have some time to rest before we go to my home race. I’m really looking forward to that and can’t wait to race at Aragón in front of my Spanish fans.””

With his sixth win, he surpasses the likes of Davide Tardozzi and Leon Haslam in the all-time win rankings. A seventh win will put him level with American, Ben Bostrom.

Jonathan Rea may have failed to take a win in Thailand for the first time since the country became part of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship calendar, but his super consistency means he was able to still be the best of the rest.

Having led at sporadic points throughout the race weekend, Jonathan Rea is still only in a 26-point deficit to Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati), a margin that Rea himself has often left Thailand with, for other riders to try and overcome. A challenging weekend but an intriguing one also, Rea knows he will have to come back stronger at MotorLand Aragon.

Jonathan Rea - Image by GeeBee

Jonathan Rea – Image by GeeBee

Jonathan Rea saying, “The best we could hope for today was a brace of second places and we managed to achieve that, albeit with a lot of pressure from Alex in the final race. He kept really pushing, as he had in the sprint race, but I just had that little bit extra in the end of race three to go away. I want to thank my team for giving me a good bike this weekend and there is always some work to do to improve the package. I felt this weekend we struggled a little bit with front end stability, especially when the front was moving a little bit in that second part of the final race, in the sectors where I was strong. Behind my visor I was giving it 110% especially in those early laps to try and keep in the slipstream as long as I could. As soon as I lost that it was back to managing my own race. I am taking home 49 points again and we will try to build on that in Europe.”

His team-mate Leon Haslam battled hard in his return to the Chang International Circuit and recorded another two fifth places today, keeping him sixth overall.

Leon Haslam

Leon Haslam

Leon Haslam, stating, “It was more consistent for me in the second race today. We were running the bigger brake discs, which I did not have the best of feelings with this weekend, but in general we made a big step with the bike. I can say now that I have been suffering with a tapped nerve in my back, which flared up just before I came here, and I have had to take painkilling injections. I struggled a lot this weekend and I am glad it is over, in some ways. I need some rest and then we can start again in Aragon. I had not been to Chang for four years. It was always going to be tough with just two 50-minute sessions and going straight into it. So to get three fifth places, I am quite happy.”

Race 1

The opening race of the Pirelli Thai Round in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship saw Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) clash on track early, but Bautista was able to get the better of the reigning champion to take his fourth WorldSBK win.

WorldSBK Round 2 - 2019, Thailand

WorldSBK Round 2 – 2019, Thailand

An action-packed start saw Bautista originally get a flying start but Buriram specialist Jonathan Rea got ahead of the Spaniard through turn one with Alex Lowes in behind (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team). The GRT Yamaha WorldSBK riders of Sandro Cortese and Marco Melandri ran wide at the same turn, with Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) slicing under them and into fourth. At the end of lap one, the top four were covered by 1.1s. A lightening start from Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) saw him elevate from 10th on the grid to fifth by the end of the opening lap.

On lap three, Jonathan Rea led by a narrow margin ahead of championship leader Bautista, who has topped every session so far in Thailand this year. At turn three, Bautista made his move, only for Rea to cut back underneath him, colliding with his rival. Bautista made a miraculous save and whilst Alex Lowes came through, Bautista shook his head in disgust at Rea’s aggressive pass.

Leon Haslam

Leon Haslam

Whilst Rea led, towards the end of lap three, Bautista made a pass on Lowes at the final corner, only to run wide and Lowes to pass him back down the front straight. Soon enough though, on the fourth lap at turn one, Bautista made his way through on Lowes and then set off in his pursuit of the four-time champion.

Behind the leaders, the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team riders started to battle to form a battle for the final podium position. Van der Mark couldn’t make a move however and Lowes would maintain a strong pace right through the race. Behind them, Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was keeping a watching brief, whilst Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) began to reel in the battle for the podium.

With 12 laps to go, Bautista had regained the ground on Rea and set about trying to find a way ahead of the Kawasaki-mounted rider. On the run to the turn three, Bautista got ahead and this time, he was able to make the move stick and Jonathan Rea couldn’t fight back straight away. The two continued to romp away from the rest of the pack and whilst Rea didn’t lose too much time on Bautista initially, lap after lap, Bautista’s metronomic pace soon saw him break clear. That is how it would stay until the end of the race.

Jonathan Rea & Alex Lowes - Image by GeeBee

Jonathan Rea & Alex Lowes – Image by GeeBee

With the third place battle seemingly a stalemate between the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team riders, Leon Haslam was starting to feel the pressure of Marco Melandri. Melandri made his way ahead on lap 11, but the battle was far from over. With just five laps to go, a rough lap from Melandri allowed Haslam to close up and make a move at the final corner. Haslam ran wide and the wily Italian cut back under him, clashing on the start and finish straight. Yet another Kawasaki in a collision, but this time, eventually, Haslam would win the fight.

At the line, Bautista took the win by 8.2s ahead of Rea, whilst Lowes held on ahead of Michael van der Mark by 0.4s to take his third Buriram podium. In fifth position, Leon Haslam clinched the place over Melandri, whilst Sandro Cortese took seventh after a late battle with Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team). Sykes was ninth after being pushed back due to his top speed deficit, with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) coming from 13th to 10th.

Race 1 Podium

Race 1 Podium

Race 1 Results

  1. Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing Ducati)
  2. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
  3. Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team)
  4. Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team)
  5. Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
  6. Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK)

Sprint Race

The second Tissot Superpole Race of the 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship went to championship leading Rookie, Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati), despite Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) leading into the first turn. With the race stopped early due to a red flag for an incident at turn three, it was a shorter racer than anticipated.

WorldSBK Round 2 - 2019, Thailand - Image by GeeBee

WorldSBK Round 2 – 2019, Thailand – Image by GeeBee

A frenetic opening lap started the 10-lap Tissot Superpole Race, with Rea bolting into the lead and Bautista slotting in behind. It wasn’t long until The Rookie made his way ahead but in a similar style to their collision at turn three yesterday, ran wide and Rea sliced under him. Bautista got back ahead at turn four whilst Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) began closing in too. Lap one completed, the top five consisted of Bautista, Rea, Lowes, followed by Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) and Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK).

Bautista started to pull away from the reigning four-time WorldSBK Champion, who had a lot on his hands with Alex Lowes’ pressure. Ryuichi Kiyonari (Moriwaki Althea HONDA Team) retired from the Tissot Superpole Race, having retired from Race 1 yesterday. Leon Haslam was making moves and got into fourth position ahead of Marco Melandri at turn three.

Alvaro Baustista

Alvaro Baustista

Lap three and the race looked like it was coming alive, because whilst Bautista was pulling away, it was Jonathan Rea who set the fastest lap of the race, slashing the Spaniard’s initial gap down to under half-a-second.

On lap four, van der Mark got his chance to get ahead of Melandri, as the Italian ran wide at turn eight and allowed the Dutch star through. Melandri then ran wide again at the final corner, allowing his teammate Sandro Cortese through. Melandri would take the place back a few laps later.

Whilst one Ducati was out front, Chaz Davies’ difficulties continued but he was able to close down Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) throughout the race and eventually got ahead of the Turk. Soon after, the red flag was shown after an incident at turn three, halting Davies’ charge ahead.

Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea HONDA Racing) and Thitipong Warokorn (Kawasaki Thailand Racing Team) had a collision at turn three, bringing the red flag out and the race to a close. The Thai rider had been taken to the medical centre but has been sent to hospital for further assessments.

Alvaro Bautista

Alvaro Bautista

Bautista was declared winner ahead of Rea and Alex Lowes, who was just a fraction behind the Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK rider. Michael van der Mark is arguably the biggest beneficiary, moving from tenth on the grid to fourth after finishing just outside the podium placings. Completing the top five was Leon Haslam, who doesn’t change his original grid position.

Marco Melandri was sixth and will therefore start race two from the back of the second row, whilst heading up the third row will be Sandro Cortese in seventh, who has a significant drop from his Saturday Tissot Superpole session grid position. Chaz Davies and Toprak Razgatlioglu will join him on the third row.

Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) completed the top ten but will line up tenth too. The race did not feature Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) after his huge crash in race one.

Sprint Race Results

  1. Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing Ducati)
  2. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
  3. Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team)
  4. Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team)
  5. Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
  6. Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK)

Race 2

In what has been a dream opening six races in Alvaro Bautista’s WorldSBK career, he took yet another race win to become the first rider since Neil Hodgson to win the opening six races of a WorldSBK season, back in 2003! Bautista completed another lights to flag victory in dominant fashion on his way to more records!

WorldSBK Round 2 - 2019, Thailand

WorldSBK Round 2 – 2019, Thailand – Image by GeeBee

With lights turning green, the final race of the Pirelli Thai Round got underway, with Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) able to hold onto first position from start to finish. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) couldn’t take a challenge to Bautista but had to deal with Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) in the early stages. At the end of the first lap the leading trio had a slight gap over Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) and Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK).

Soon, the big battle came from the scrap for fifth position, with van der Mark, Melandri, Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) and Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati). Turn 3 was once again a prime overtaking area, with Melandri trying a move on van der Mark at Turn 3, with both running wide and allowing Chaz Davies to get a better drive down the straight and by Turn 4, the Welshman had got ahead of both Yamaha riders!

Chaz Davies

Chaz Davies

Melandri retook Davies at Turn 8 but the race winner from Buriram in 2018 fought back at Turn 12. Cortese and van der Mark made the exact same succession of moves; a thrilling spectacle in the early stages.

Luck wasn’t going the way of Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), who had to retire his S1000RR on lap four. Melandri and Davies had a close call on the same lap, with the Italian forcefully moving aside his former teammate at Turn 9, allowing van der Mark to go through, whilst Chaz Davies had to recover right at the back of the group. It wasn’t long however before Davies himself would suffer the same fate as Sykes. The 29-time WorldSBK race winner retired on lap eight, concluding a wretched start to the season.

Whilst the front eight remained fairly static in an intriguing battle, further down the field, Toprak Razgatliolgu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) began to reel in Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) and got ahead of him in the final part of the race to win the battle of the Independent Kawasaki riders.

Toprak Razgatliolgu

Toprak Razgatliolgu

Bautista dominated to take the victory by more than ten seconds, ahead of Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes. Michael van der Mark was able to hold off a late charge by Leon Haslam, whilst Marco Melandri finished in sixth position for a fifth race in a row. Van der Mark’s fourth place means he stretches his finishing run to 21.

Behind the leading six, Sandro Cortese became the first German since Max Neukirchner in 2008 to finish six consecutive races inside the top eight, with his seventh position. Eighth belonged to Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team), a great performance on his debut in Thailand. Razgatlioglu managed to hold off Jordi Torres as they completed the top ten.

With only three more finishers it was Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) in 11th, with Ryuichi Kiyonari (Moriwaki Althea HONDA Team) in 12th on his debut in Thailand, whilst Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team) scored his first WorldSBK points with 13th. Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) failed to start, whilst Argentine, Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) retired after just one lap. Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea HONDA Team) and Thitipong Warokorn (Kawasaki Thailand Racing Team) didn’t start due to their Tissot Superpole Race crash.

Alvaro Bautista - Image by GeeBee

Alvaro Bautista – Image by GeeBee

Race 2 Result

  1. Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing Ducati)
  2. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
  3. Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team)
  4. Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team)
  5. Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
  6. Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK)

WorldSBK Standings Following Round 2

  1. Alvaro Bautista 124
  2. Jonathan Rea 98
  3. Alex Lowes 69
  4. Michael Van Der Mark 61
  5. Marco Melandri 54
  6. Leon Haslam 51
  7. Sandro Cortese 40
  8. Michael Ruben Rinaldi 25
  9. Toprak Razgatlioglu 24
  10. Tom Sykes 19

World Supersport 

The FIM Supersport World Championship race at the Chang International Circuit was once again a thrilling 17-lap encounter. Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) took a stunning win after leading the majority of the race, although having to battle hard with the rest of the front running protagonists too.

Jules Cluzel

Jules Cluzel

On lap 1, Jules Cluzel got a brilliant start from pole position but slotting in behind him at Turn 1 was Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing), who got a rapid start from sixth position. Federico Caricasulo remained third after the start initially before Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) pushed his way through into the leading three.

Isaac Viñales lost his initial advantage down the straight and by the end of the opening lap, was fourth, behind Cluzel, Caricasulo and Japanese sensation, Okubo. 2nd place starter, Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) had a terrible start and was down in eighth.

In the early stages of the race, two seconds covered the leading eight riders. Austrian rider Thomas Gradinger was making good progress, lapping the fastest rider on track on lap two. However, just a few laps later, his Yamaha YZF R6 was forced to retire at Turn 3, after it began smoke began to emit from it.

Randy Krummenacher

Randy Krummenacher

Isaac Viñales was continuously impressing throughout the race, making a brilliant pass at Turn 4 ahead of Federico Caricasulo, before challenging Jules Cluzel at the final corner for the lead, before running wide and allowing Cluzel to take him back on the run down the front straight. Meanwhile, Randy Krummenacher began to recover from his bad start, fighting his way ahead of Hector Barbera (Team Toth by Willirace) and Raffaele de Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse).

As the race battle continued on, Turn 3 was a hub of overtaking activity, with little success making it a great spectacle, resulting in the eventual drag-race to Turn 4. With the leaders tripping themselves up, Hikari Okubo and Randy Krummenacher were able to close down the margin to the front. Krummenacher managed to get ahead of Okubo with five laps left.

Out front, hard moves were now being placed, with Jules Cluzel and Federico Caricasulo continuously swapping positions, resulting twice in Caricasulo being pushed wide at Turn 8 – both occasions seeing him lose more places. The top three battling was a fantastic spectacle, but Randy Krummenacher continued to close, in his quest to give Switzerland its first back-to-back WorldSSP wins.

On the penultimate lap, just 0.7s covered the leading four, with Hikari Okubo now being dropped in fifth. Caricasulo went for a move at Turn 3 for the lead, holding it until yet again being pushed wide at Turn 8. This allowed teammate Krummenacher to come through into second, with the battling behind Cluzel starting to pave the way for the Frenchman to have an easier final lap.

With the last lap, Caricasulo started to push in what was now just a battle for second place, taking his teammate at Turn 3, before Krummenacher took him back down the straight to Turn 4. Isaac Viñales wasn’t out of it yet either, as he tried at Turn 8, only with Caricasulo to fight back straight away at Turn 9.

Jules Cluzel claimed the WSSP win

Jules Cluzel claimed the WSSP win

Jules Cluzel took his 18th WorldSSP race win and Yamaha’s 80th in the class! Krummenacher fought back to finish second, with Caricasulo holding on for third. Viñales, De Rosa and Okubo were just behind, whilst completing the top ten was Hector Barbera, Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) who started from the back of the grid, Loris Cresson (Kallio Racing) and Hannes Soomer (MPM WILSport Racedays) rounding out the top ten.

Completing the points were Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA), Peter Sebestyen (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda), Jaimie van Sikkelerus (MPM WILSport Racedays), Rob Hartog (Team Hartog – Against Cancer) on his comeback from injury, and Maria Herrera (MS Racing).

WorldSSP Race Results

  1. Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA)
  2. Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team)
  3. Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team)
  4. Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing)
  5. Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse)
  6. Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing)

WorldSSP standings following Round 2

  1. Jules Cluzel 45
  2. Randy Krummenacher 45
  3. Federico Caricasulo 32
  4. Hector Barbera 22
  5. Hikari Okubo 20
  6. Corentin Perolari 14
  7. Isaac Vinales 13
  8. Loris Cresson 13
  9. Lucas Mahias 12
  10. Peter Sebestyen 12
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