WorldSBK 2019 – Round Two
Chang International Circuit, Buriram
Superbike Race One
An action-packed start saw Bautista originally get a flying start but Buriram specialist Jonathan Rea got ahead of the Spaniard through Turn 1 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 3, 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.
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 1, 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 3, 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.
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 after the Briton suffered some brake problems in the race, whilst Sandro Cortese took seventh after a late battle with Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team).
Tom Sykes was ninth after being pushed back due to his top speed deficit, with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) coming from 13th to 10th.
With battle between the Spaniard and the Ulsterman, Alvaro Bautista’s win makes him the first Ducati rider since Neil Hodgson in 2003 to win the opening four races of a WorldSBK season. He gives Ducati their 345th win in the World Superbike class, as well as their 587th WorldSBK podium. He also becomes the first non-British rider to win at the Chang International Circuit.
The win also extended Bautista’s advantage in the Championship to 18-points over Rea with the Spaniard on 87-points to the Northern Irishman’s 69-points and Alex Lows on 46-points.
P1 – Alvaro Bautista
“For sure for me this was a different race completely from Australia! It was fantastic to win after a great fight with Rea, especially at the beginning and then in the middle. We made contact in turn 3 because I overtook him on the line and suddenly he came in very fast and hit me and I was very lucky not to crash and damage the bike. After that I got my pace and caught Lowes and Rea. Today however I didn’t feel so comfortable with the bike: in the morning it was good but in the afternoon I had problems braking into the corners, and in acceleration I was suffering a bit as well. Despite this, I won again and I’m happy even though the feeling wasn’t perfect.”
P2 – Jonathan Rea
“I felt really good with the bike and we got the maximum form the package so I am looking forward for tomorrow. I was really proud of my effort and I enjoyed it. I love riding on that level but unfortunately the result did not reflect that effort. We can make a small improvement tomorrow but I feel we got the best out of our package today. At the end, there was no reason to keep pushing so I started to think about bringing back 20 points. Today second was the best that I could do and I was happy to bring it home. I am excited for tomorrow, especially for the sprint race because I feel like I can ride at that intensity for ten laps no problem, and maybe we can fight to the end.”
P3 – Alex Lowes
“It’s a really good result, but I didn’t feel as comfortable in the race as I thought I would; I think the conditions were slightly different for the race compared to this morning. It meant I struggled a little bit with the front, especially with a full fuel load, but then I saw the front two had pulled a gap and my pit board was saying I had a group of three behind me, so I didn’t want to make a mistake. I settled into a rhythm that I knew I could maintain to the end, and even have a little bit left over to fightback if someone passed me. In the end the pace was high enough to pull a slight gap on the group behind. While I’m happy to finish on the podium, it’s also a little disappointing to be so far from the win when I felt like I rode really well. When I was battling with Alvaro after he ran wide, the speed he came past me on the short straight was a bit frustrating because I couldn’t even stay in his slipstream. So, a shame to be so far off the winner, but I’m satisfied with the third place.”
P4 – Michael van der Mark
“It was a good race today. I got a fantastic start and had a bit of a battle with Tom Sykes in the beginning and, after I managed to get past him, it was a case of trying to chase down Alex in third place. I managed to close the gap and I was a little bit faster in a couple of places, but I felt like I just didn’t have the speed to put in a pass and pull away. So I sat behind him for most of the race, waiting for an opportunity in the closing stages, but he was a bit stronger on the brakes. We both had our strong points on the track, but he managed to get away to take a well-deserved podium and I’m happy to pick up the points for fourth after a strong race.”
P5 – Leon Haslam
“Honestly, I struggled in the race. We had a little problem with the brakes with about nine laps to go, which meant I was pushing the front quite hard. With about five or six to go the front tyre was really struggling. I am not happy with fifth, although we were close to a third, but we need to improve a little bit and make a few small changes. I got caught up with a few of the riders and I was not very confident in passing. We need to make a few little tweaks and then hopefully we can get on the podiums tomorrow.”
P6 – Marco Melandri
“It was difficult today. I didn’t get a good start but initially I managed to come back and make up places, but then I was struggling a lot with the stability issue on the straights. It meant I couldn’t sit on the seat on the straights but instead I had to keep weight on the footrests all the time, so there was no chance to breathe on the straights like normal. We made a set-up change to make the bike a bit more stable but the compromise was that we lost some rear grip, so I had to try and gain time under braking and by carrying more corner speed, but then the traction dropped off a lot after 10 laps.”
Sandro Cortese – P7
“It’s been a good Saturday here in Thailand. A good performance in Superpole meant I started the race today from P4 on the second row of the grid but, unfortunately, I couldn’t stay with the second group from about the halfway point onwards. From that point it was a long and tough race but we finished P7, which is my best result so far in WorldSBK. Tomorrow will be another hard day but I think we are working in a very good direction. Maybe after qualifying fourth people were expecting a bit more, but we need to be realistic. Top eight was our goal and we achieved that so, overall, I’m happy with today.”
P9 – Tom Sykes
“I think everyone saw today the potential of the BMW S 1000 RR. In the corners and in the braking areas, I think our potential is very high. It’s just a bit unfortunate that we are missing out on straight-line speed and losing positions on the straight. I was very happy with the performance in the corners, the corner speed and the general turning of the bike. Again: the first time I rode this bike was on 18th December. It is very early stage of the programme. I have a lot of experience and to just put things into perspective I think that we are doing a very, very good job. For now, we have a limitation on speed performance but in the areas of chassis, suspension and electronics everybody has done great job already and honestly the handling of the bike is impressive. Considering the nature of the track and to do these lap times was promising for me, considering what we are losing in the first two sectors. When I had battles on the track today I was actually surprised how strong we were in some areas. So we keep working!”
|Buriram WSBK Race One|
|1||A. Bautista||Panigale V4 R||0.000||1’32.724||309,5|
|3||A. Lowes||YZF R1||14.155||1’33.167||304,2|
|4||M. Van D M||YZF R1||14.623||1’33.493||298,3|
|6||M. Melandri||YZF R1||18.681||1’33.334||303,4|
|7||S. Cortese||YZF R1||25.603||1’33.881||297,5|
|8||M. Rinaldi||Panigale V4 R||27.627||1’33.892||305,9|
|9||T. Sykes||S1000 RR||28.789||1’33.767||300,0|
|14||M. Reiterberger||S1000 RR||43.041||1’34.592||300,0|
|15||C. Davies||Panigale V4 R||54.495||1’33.801||306,8|
|RET||R. Kiyonari||CBR1000RR||12 Laps||1’35.111||300,8|
|RET||E. Laverty||Panigale V4 R||18 Laps||1’34.173||304,2|
Jules Cluzel takes pole position in Buriram
Pirelli Thai Round saw the Tissot Superpole for the FIM Supersport World Championship take place, with Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) taking his first pole position of the season, his first since Donington Park in 2018. Joining him on the front row, the BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team pairing of Randy Krummenacher and Federico Caricasulo – a reversed front row from the opening round of the year.
Heading row two, Japanese star Hikari Okubo, who achieved his best Tissot Superpole grid position of fourth. His previous best was a fifth, also at Donington Park in 2018. Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) finished in fifth position and will look to stay aboard on Sunday, whilst completing row two was Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing), his first time in Thailand on a World Supersport bike not a being a poor showing at all.
Row three sees Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing) with work to do, especially if he wants to give Austria their first ever podium finish. He lines up ahead of the likes of Hector Barbera (Team Toth by Willirace) and 2017 WorldSSP Champion, Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing). Both Barbera and Mahias struggling throughout the session to set a lap time capable of challenging the front runners. Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini Racing) completes the top ten, after his first experience of Thailand in WorldSSP.
Cluzel’s pole position means it is Yamaha’s 75th pole position in the class, whilst it is France’s 74th. Cluzel hasn’t won a race from pole position since Buriram in 2016 and has only won from pole position on four other occasions. Can he change that and give Yamaha their 80th win in WorldSSP?
Pole position – Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA)
“I am so pleased about this result. Our rivals have been very quick since the beginning of the season, but it seems that after Australia we have now found the pace to stay with them. I am really happy, and I want to thank my team because they did a good job in every session and I think we have worked well so far and that we are ready to fight for the win. Temperatures here are extremely high, and there are strong competitors, so I expect a hard battle in the race tomorrow”.
World Supersport Superpole
|1||J. Cluzel||YZF R6||1’36.826||0.000||264,1|
|2||R. Krummenacher||YZF R6||1’36.855||0.029||268,0|
|3||F. Caricasulo||YZF R6||1’36.915||0.089||268,7|
|5||R. De Rosa||F3 675||1’37.225||0.399||264,1|
|6||I. Vinales||YZF R6||1’37.423||0.597||266,7|
|7||T. Gradinger||YZF R6||1’37.581||0.755||269,3|
|8||H. Barbera||YZF R6||1’37.782||0.956||260,9|
|13||L. Cresson||YZF R6||1’38.400||1.574||270,7|
|14||J. Van Sikkelerus||CBR600RR||1’38.430||1.604||262,1|
|15||C. Perolari||YZF R6||1’38.545||1.719||262,8|
|18||M. Herrera||YZF R6||1’39.076||2.250||262,8|
|19||G. Van Straalen||ZX-6R||1’39.381||2.555||260,2|
|20||F. Fuligni||F3 675||1’39.531||2.705||258,4|
|24||R. Nakcharoensri||YZF R6||1’43.044||6.218||251,7|