Gradinger earns pole position in WorldSSP qualifying.
An action-packed opening encounter saw Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) take a seventh win of the 2019 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) season at Aragon’s third round in Spain.
It was a thrilling battle for second position though, as a seven-bike train soon began to frantically swap places, resulting in a thrilling final few laps.
Bautista got a dream start, blasting clear into the lead by turn on. However, there was drama behind as Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) collided on the line, leaving the German rider on the floor in the middle of the pack. He was able to get up, but his race was certainly over.
Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was able to give some positivity to the German manufacturer, as he got into second position, ahead of Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team). There was more carnage on the opening lap, as Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing Verdnatura) and Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team) crashed at turn 12.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.It Racing – Ducati) was moving up the order very quickly, into fourth by lap two, racing up from eighth on the grid. Jonathan Rea had also made a great start, up to fifth position, whilst the rider who had suffered the most in the opening laps was German, Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), who was now down to seventh as Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) moved through on his Yamaha compatriot.
As the race progressed, a mistake from Alex Lowes at the final corner allowed Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes to come through, whilst Davies also got in on the action. Four riders, representing four manufacturers, side-by-side down the straight for second position. Meanwhile, way out in the lead, Bautista achieved a new lap record, with 1m49.755s cementing his position as the rider to beat in WorldSBK.
Sykes soon dropped back behind the main protagonists but Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) was right in the mix, picking up places and soon, was amongst the leading group. The Irishman made it into fifth position in the final third of the race, before also making a bold move with three laps to go on Lowes at turn 12. The Irishman was now fourth and looking good for a podium.
Completing the race without any such drama, Bautista took a seventh win, as Rea took a seventh second position and Chaz Davies in third place – his first podium of the 2019 season. Laverty’s crash promoted Alex Lowes to fourth and a resurgent Sykes, who picked off Cortese and van der Mark in the closing laps.
With Sykes fifth with the Dutch and German stars behind, eighth place was taken by Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing), ahead of a disappointing Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in ninth and top Kawasaki after Tissot Superpole, Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) – the 31-year-old Spaniard taking his first back-to-back top 10s of the season.
Outside of the top 10, it was Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea Honda Racing) ahead of a dejected Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), with second-row starter Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) down in 13th. Ryuichi Kiyonari (Moriwaki Althea Honda Racing) and disappointed Eugene Laverty concluded the points.
A flurry of action at the end of WorldSSP qualifying saw Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing) become the first Austrian to secure a pole position in the history of the championship. Second position on the grid went to Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team), whilst his teammate, Randy Krummenacher, completed the all-Yamaha front row.
Heading up row two, championship leader Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) will hope for a fast start in order to battle hard to retain his championship lead, with him and Krummenacher level on points. Isaac Vinales (Kallio Racing) was fifth, with Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) in sixth, the first non-Yamaha on the grid.
Two frenetic WorldSSP300 Superpole sessions saw action and drama right the way through, with Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) qualifying on pole position from Group A.
Joining him on the front row also from Group A is Indonesian rider, Galang Hendra Pratama (Semakin Di Depan Biblion Motoxracing) who is second, with fellow Group A rider Hugo De Cancellis (Team Trasimeno) completing the front row.
Australians Tom Edwards (ParkinGo Team Kawasaki) and Tom Bramich (Nutec – RT Motorsports by SKM – Kawasaki) qualified in positions 29 and 35, while Jack Hyde (2R Racing Team Kawasaki) was unable to make it through onto the grid.