Alex Lowes has defeated his factory Kawasaki teammate Jonathan Rea in an electrifying race three at Phillip Island’s round one of the 2020 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship Yamaha Finance round, to leave Australia with the World Superbike Championship lead. Words IRPR, Pics GeeBee Images.
Tissot Superpole Sprint
World champion Jonathan Rea won a nail-biting Tissot Superpole Sprint race at Phillip Island during round one of the 2020 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, Yamaha Finance round.
After a high-speed crash in race one, the Kawasaki top gun responded like a true champion to win a nail-biting thriller ahead of Toprak Razgatlioglu (Yamaha) and Scott Redding (Ducati).
Just 0.072 seconds – a little more than a tyre width – separated the trio after the frenetic 10-lapper, with Alex Lowes (Kawasaki) right on the tail of the top three.
Michael van der Mark (Yamaha), polesitter Tom Sykes (BMW), Loris Baz (Yamaha) and Leon Haslam (Honda) saw out the top eight, while world No. 2 Alvaro Bautista (Honda) was the big name casualty after crashing at turn six.
The victory was the first for Rea at Phillip Island since 2017, while race one winner Razgatlioglu consolidated his early lead in the 2020 championship.
Michael Rinaldi (Ducati) and Max Schieb (Kawasaki) completed the top 10 in the Superpole race, while it was another underwhelming performance from Chaz Davies (Ducati) back in 13th.
Tissot Superpole Sprint Results
Yamaha Finance Superbike Race Three
In a superb 22-lap afternoon race where 10 riders were running line astern at Phillip Island during the middle stages, it eventually boiled down to an intra-Kawasaki battle as Rea and Lowes turned the screws on their opposition.
And despite relentless pressure from Rea, Lowes used the slipstream to perfection, to pip the reigning champ and win his maiden WorldSBK race in Kawasaki colours after four years with Yamaha and his first win since Brno in 2018.
The final margin was wafer thin – 0.037 seconds – while Scott Redding (Ducati) finished third ahead of Michael van der Mark (Yamaha), a rejuvenated Chaz Davies (Ducati) and Honda’s Alvaro Bautista.
Saturday’s victor Toprak Razgatlioglu locked horns with fellow Yamaha rider Loris Baz and eventually retired, while early race leader Baz finished in eighth position – one spot behind impressive privateer Max Scheib (Kawasaki).
Sandro Cortese (Kawasaki) and Tom Sykes (BMW) were ninth and 10th – a disappointing result for Sykes after his pole position showed such early promise – while Leon Haslam (Honda) ran off at turn 10 after an altercation with Italian Michael Rinaldi (Ducati).
Haslam was the final rider home in 12th position.
“What a weekend, I could not have asked for anything more,” said an elated Lowes. “The bike was fantastic in that race. I was trying to control myself, cause I kept getting punted wide three or four times, dropping back to seventh or eighth position.
“I felt like the bike was working well and I knew it was going to be about the last few laps. So I tried to keep it smooth and luckily for me today I had a little more grip than other guys.
“But this guy is still going to be the man to beat,” he said signalling to his new teammate and five-time World Champion, Rea.
“I am looking forward to hopefully having a few races with him this year. Although I’ve been in the same championship last few years, it is very rare we’ve managed to have some battles.”
Sunday’s racing missed new rider to the championship, Texan Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha) and Eugene Laverty (BMW) – both out after nasty crashes in warm-up this morning.
Leaving Australia, Lowes leads the championship after round one, his 51pt haul at Phillip Island putting him ahead of Redding (39), Toprak Razgatlioglu (Yamaha, 34), defending champion Rea (32), van der Mark (31) and Bautista (20).
Yamaha Finance Round, World Superbike Race Three Results.
Italian rookie Andrea Locatelli has produced a World Supersport masterclass in round one of the 2020 Supersport World Championship at Phillip Island.
The Yamaha rider was in total control from the get-go, launching off the line from pole position and then continuing is dominance for the balance of the 16-lap race – which included a mandatory pit stop for a new rear tyre.
Locatelli’s final winning margin was 5.817 seconds over Raffaele de Rosa (MV Agusta), with Jules Cluzel completing the podium on his Yamaha – a strong result for the Frenchman after a massive crash on Saturday. The last rookie to win a WorldSSP race on debut was Randy Krummenacher in 2016.
And 23-year old Locatelli’s path to victory was undoubtedly made easier after World Champion Krummenacher (MV Agusta) crashed on lap one. The Swiss hard-charger got off to a bad start and, while attempting to make up for lost time, ran too wide at the unforgiving turn one – his title defence getting off to the same agonising start as Jonathan Rea in yesterday’s WorldSBK opener.
In a twist of fortunes, Locatelli is riding the very same machine that Krummenacher won the 2019 title on. Meanwhile, Corentin Perolari (Yamaha) just edged out Luca Mahias (Kawasaki) in the battle for fourth position, and Hannes Soomer (Yamaha) was sixth.
Australia’s Oli Bayliss was a late withdrawal after a mechanical problem with his Yamaha – which was first diagnosed in qualifying – couldn’t be fixed in time to allow the 16-year to put his best foot forward on the world stage.
Supersport Race Results