Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) doubled up on MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship victories on Sunday as he won a red-flagged Race 2 at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. The race-winning move came on the final lap at Turn 9 when the #22 stormed around the outside of Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) at Lukey Heights as he started the 2024 season in stunning fashion during the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round.
EARLY RED FLAG: Rea crashes at Turn 11
Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) got the holeshot as he went in search of a first race win. He maintained his lead despite a challenge from Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) and Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), although the latter made his way into first at the start of Lap 4. On Lap 3, Razgatlioglu’s charge came to an end. A technical issue on his M 1000 RR at Turn 9 forced the 2021 Champion to retire and caused chaos behind, with Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) surging up to fourth. However, Rea crashed at the end of Lap 3 at Turn 11 with the race red flagged on Lap 4. Rea was seen being taken away on the stretcher, but he was conscious and taken to the medical centre for a check-up. The race was restarted over an 11-lap race which took out the mandatory pit stop.
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ON A MISSION: Rinaldi flies from lights out
The grid for the restarted race was based on the last completed timing point for each rider, with Bautista lining from the front row alongside Locatelli and Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven), who surged up the order in the first three laps including an incredible double move on Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team Motocorsa Racing) and Rea. Bautista maintained the lead, but the big mover was Rinaldi who went from P6 to second and challenging Bautista for the lead as they pulled away from the chasing back.
Rinaldi stayed within half-a-second of his former teammate, although, despite looking like he was attempting a move into Turn 1 on several occasions, he didn’t make a move on the #1. Behind, Lowes was closing in on Rinaldi with the #22 passing the Italian for second at Turn 1 at the start of Lap 8. The trio had pulled away from Iannone, who ran wide on a couple of occasions, while Locatelli was fighting back after dropping down the order when the race started.
LIKE LONDON BUSES: you wait four years for a win…
On Lap 9, Locatelli passed Rinaldi on the exit of Turn 10 as his fight back continued although it came to an end on the final lap at Turn 4 when Locatelli crashed while trying to pass Alex Lowes and retired from the race after what had been an incredible performance all weekend. It allowed Bautista and the #22 to fight for victory, and the Brit secured his second win of the day in an almost unbelievable move. He went around the outside of Bautista at Lukey Heights on the final lap. Bautista tried to re-pass the Kawasaki rider, but he was unable with the duo separated by just 0.048s. Locatelli’s crash promoted Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) into P4, after he battled Iannone on the final lap with less than a tenth separating the two Italians. It completes a superb weekend for Barni Ducati, following Yari Montella’s double in WorldSSP.
It was Lowes’ fourth win in WorldSBK, with three of them coming at the legendary Australian circuit. It was also the Brit’s 36th podium, while he claimed Kawasaki’s 180th victory. It means Lowes leads the Championship for the first time since Australian 2020. Bautista’s second place was his 90th in WorldSBK, while Petrucci’s third place was his fourth rostrum.
FIGHTING BACK: Bulega, Aegerter climb through the field
Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) recovered from a poor start in the original race to take fifth, finishing ahead of Rinaldi. The #21’s challenge lasted around half the race before he dropped down the order but was still able to claim a top six. Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) climbed through the order to take eighth, while Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was ninth. The Swiss rider, in all three races, dropped down the order in the opening stages but was able to fight back for another top ten finish, with Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) completing the top ten.
ENDING WITH POINTS: a strong finish to Australia for Bassani
Axel Bassani (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) enjoyed a strong end to his first round with Kawasaki, showing strong pace throughout Sunday that culminated in 11th place and just over five seconds away from teammate Lowes. In the fight for ninth, Aegerter, van der Mark and Bassani were separated by just 0.031s. Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) had to start the restarted race from last, after he made contact with Rea’s bike following the Ulsterman’s crash which dropped him to last. Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) was 13th ahead of Philipp Oettl (GMT94 Yamaha) and Bradley Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team); the Brit scoring a point on his first visit to Phillip Island.
HOUSEKEEPING: narrowly missing out
Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was 16th and missed out on points by more than five seconds, and he was four seconds clear of Scott Redding (Bonovo Action BMW) in 17th. PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team duo Tarran Mackenzie and Adam Norrodin were the last classified riders in 18th and 29th.
The top six from WorldSBK Race 2, full results here:
1. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
2. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 0.048s
3. Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) +1.178s
4. Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) +1.275s
5. Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +2.346s
6. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team Motocorsa Racing) +2.913s
1. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 50 points
2. Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 41
3. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) 29
4. Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) 29
5. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 27
6. Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) 24
Barcelona calling! Round 2 comes from Catalunya, make sure you watch all the action using the WorldSBK VideoPass!