Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea ensured the 2019 Pirelli French Round will go down in the history books, after Sunday began with Turkey’s first ever winner Razgatlioglu claiming victory in the Superpole Race and culminating with Jonathan Rea winning Race 2 to become the championship’s first ever five-time champion following early misfortune for nearest rival Alvaro Bautista.
In World Supersport Lucas Mahias took the win, with favourites Randy Krummenacher and Federico Caricasulo both crashing out, with 10-points separating the two crashers at the head of the standings.
Ana Carrasco claimed victory in the World Supersport 300 class, while Manuel González extended his championship lead to claim the 2019 title, becoming the youngest rider to ever do so.
22-year-old Toprak Razgatlioglu made it two out of two at the Pirelli French Round, clinching a stunning Tissot Superpole Race victoryafter another battle withJonathan Rea, who as a result created the mathematical possibility of securing a fifth WorldSBK crown in race two.
As the lights went out, Michael van der Marklaunched into an early lead, slipping up the inside of Jonathan Rea into the first corner. Leon Haslam maintained third withTom Sykes climbing two places to fourth. Chaz Davies and Toprak Razgatlioglu were both big movers, improving up to eighth and tenth respectively.
The Razgatlioglu roll continued on the second lap, gaining three places in an incredible move on the brakes into the Adelaide hairpin, overhauling Chaz Davies, Alex Lowes and Michael Ruben Rinaldi. In the meantime, Jonathan Rea had managed to wrestle control away from Michael van der Mark, easing up the inside at the Imola chicane.
Eleven places had been gained in the first two laps, and two more would follow for Razgatlioglu on lap three, as the remarkable prowess of the Turkish rider on the brakes took him past Tom Sykes at the Adelaide hairpin, before Leon Haslam relinquished third three corners later. When Michael van der Mark was overtaken at Adelaide shortly before half distance, the stage was set for a repeat of yesterday’s last lap battle for the lead in race one.
On lap seven, the comeback was complete with the Turkish Puccetti Racing rider storming up the inside of Rea into his favourite overtaking spot, the Adelaide hairpin. The world champion stayed in touch with Razgatlioglu, and even threatened a counter attack on the final lap, but the Ulsterman couldn’t quite get his Kawasaki stopped into turn five, opening the door for Toprak to ease past on the exit and claim his second victory in a row.
The fight for the final front row spot in race two went down to the last lap as well with Chaz Davies, who had earlier made light work of Leon Haslam and Tom Sykes, chasing down the Yamaha of Michael van der Mark.
The Dutchman held on for third in the end, with Davies ensuring he will head the second row of the grid this afternoon in fourth. Alvaro Bautista produced a strong recovery to finish fifth, setting similar lap times to the leaders at various points of the race, but the Spaniard must avoid any mistakes in race two to keep Jonathan Rea waiting for the title. Alex Lowes was sixth, and will complete row two on the grid for race two.
Loris Baz returned the favour after losing out to Tom Sykes in the latter stages of race one. The Frenchman delighted the home crowd by snatching seventh on the last lap with Leon Haslam falling back to ninth by the chequered flag, the last of the points scorers.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi rode a strong race to tenth as all 20 starters completed the Tissot Superpole Race at Magny Cours. By virtue of his strong performance in Saturday’s Tissot Superpole session, Rinaldi will head the fourth row for race two later this afternoon.
Starting from pole position for the first time in WorldSBK, Toprak Razgatlioglu couldn’t make the same lightning start which saw him leap up the order in the two previous races. Rea edged up the inside into Turn 1 to grab the lead but he wouldn’t stay ahead for long, as Michael van der Mark used the slipstream to hit the front at the Adelaide hairpin.
The moment which ultimately proved decisive came on Lap 2 as Razgatlioglu lost the rear of his Kawasaki on the exit of Turn 13. As the Turkish rider fought to control the slide, Alvaro Bautista was powerless to avoid the Race 1 winner and both riders were eliminated on the spot. With the words ‘BAUTISTA OUT’ displayed on his pit-board next time around, Rea now knew that a race victory would see him make history.
Michael van der Mark was keen to ensure that Rea didn’t have an unchallenged run to a fifth WorldSBK crown, keeping the Ulsterman at bay until the Imola chicane on Lap 6. The Dutchman didn’t trail for long with the Yamaha proving a formidable motorcycle down the back straight towards Turn 5, an advantage van der Mark utilised to power past on Lap 8.
As the race ticked over half distance, Rea mounted another attack on the leader with van der Mark going defensive into Adelaide. The championship leader was wise to this tactic though and drew alongside into the following Nurburgring chicane, making the move stick on Lap 13. With van der Mark no longer close enough to make use of the slipstream next time around, Rea had the margin he needed to ease clear.
Despite a valiant effort from van der Mark, the advantage grew to over one-second, allowing Rea to close out the final laps and claim his 12th victory of 2019. This one was the sweetest of all though as he completed one of the great WorldSBK comebacks. From 61 points behind, Rea now holds an unassailable 129-point advantage and a place in the history books as the first ever five-time WorldSBK champion.
Alex Lowes completed the team’s first double-podium of the season with a close third, consolidating third in the championship standings, while Chaz Davies, who was heavily delayed in the early collision between his team-mate Alvaro Bautista and Toprak Razgatlioglu, recovered to finish fourth, overtaking home favourite Loris Baz on Lap 14. Despite a late challenge from the Frenchman, he was forced to settle for fifth, completing a positive weekend at his home round as the Top Independent Rider in Race 2.
Marco Melandri closed out the final European round of his WorldSBK career with a strong charge from 15th on the grid to sixth, winning a close three-way fight on the last lap. The Italian finished just a tenth of a second clear of Leon Haslam with Tom Sykes right behind the pair in eighth.
Leon Camier capped off an impressive comeback to the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship with ninth place, finishing a second clear of Jordi Torres. Elsewhere, there were points for French wildcard Sylvain Barrier in 13th but disappointment for Sandro Cortese who was forced to retire midway through the race while running in the top ten.
Jonathan Rea – P1
“I can quite believe it. It has been an incredible year so far, and a year I have never given up, I’ve kept believing in myself, believing in my bike, believing in my crew and believing in my effort. After the fourth race, it was so tough to keep turning up when you know that he is going to be so difficult to win, but in the mid-season, we turn things around. I don’t have so many words right now, because I did not expect this today. I had no idea what was going to happen. If I would win today, what was the point situation, but I knew when I got the sign that Bautista was out that I could mathematically have the chance. And I did it! Thanks to all my team, all my family and all the people who have been working with me, Kawasaki, the sponsors, all the people that made this possible. It’s a huge team effort, and I couldn’t be here without them.”
Michael van der Mark – P2
“I tried everything today! We improved the bike a bit in some area but toward the end, we lost quite a lot from Johnny but I really enjoyed this race and we had a nice battle! Of course, I saw that Alvaro was out so I knew Rea wasn’t going to do any crazy thing. I tried to stay with him, I passed him a few times but in the end he was a bit stronger. I want to thank my team because we got another podium.”
Alex Lowes – P3
“I have got a little bit of good luck at the start of the race with the accident that happened in front of me. But after that, I felt strong on the bike and I was able to ride in 1’37 and catch Jonathan and Michael. Unfortunately, I pushed a lot in the middle and when I got there my front tyre was worn out a lot, so I couldn’t fight with van der Mark in the end but I am pleased with the podium and it set us out nicely for the final two fly-aways of the year.”
Chaz Davies – P4
“In both races today I finished in fourth place, which in itself is not a bad result, but I feel I could have got a lot more. In race 2 I almost got caught up in the incident between Toprak and Álvaro so took avoiding action by going off the track. Unfortunately, I came off the grass at four seconds back and finished the race with the same gap that I was unable to make up. It was so frustrating not to get the chance to fight for the win, because the pace was there.”
Loris Baz – P5
“Every race we close the gap to the race winner, and the same was true this afternoon. I’m much happier than I was yesterday, because yesterday I was not so happy with the bike and how I rode the last laps, but today was much better. This morning was also strong, but we had a technical issue after five laps and I just had to ride the bike to the end, although I still managed to beat Leon and Tom. This afternoon I lost again time at the beginning with Michael Rinaldi and Leon, but once past them I was as quick as the top guys over the remaining 15 or so laps. I’m happy; we didn’t quite make the podium, but we need to remember where we’ve come from and that we’re now up there and fighting with the factory bikes. We’re doing our job and I’m sure we’ll be up there challenging for the podium really soon.”
Álvaro Bautista – DNF
“Fortunately physically I’m OK after the crash, I’m just a bit disappointed because I think in race 2 I was able to fight for the win. For sure the weekend was tough, it was a new track that I’d never seen before and there was very little time to ride in dry conditions. Yesterday in the first race I managed to improve the feeling with the track and made up a lot of positions, while today in race 2 I made a good start and felt really good with the bike up at the front. Unfortunately, I was involved in Razgatlioglu’s crash at Turn 13 and his mistake caused my retirement. It’s a pity to finish in this way but it’s all part of racing. Congratulations to Jonathan Rea because he had a great season. During the championship Jonathan has always been able to get the best out of every situation, and for sure we didn’t lose the title because of this race.”
Alvaro Bautista claimed the Superpole Race victory to kick off Sunday in strong form, with Michael Van Der Mark proving consistent claiming the runner up position on the podium, with Marco Melandri closing out the podium. Rea who had to start from the back of the grid was fourth.
Race 2 of the weekend saw disaster strike for Ducati, with Bautista and Davies both crashing out of contention, with Michael Van Der Mark claiming the win from Rea, with Razgatlioglu claiming the final podium position.
Alvaro Bautista leaves Jerez with 300 points to Jonathan Rea’s 259, while Michael Van Der Mark is third with 188-points.
Tissot Superpole Race
In the Tissot Superpole Race, the first of the Sunday, riders made various changes in terms of tyres. In particular, seven of them used the SCX solution, while Jonathan Rea started from the last spot on the grid because of a penalty for making contact with Alex Lowes in Race 1.
This moved all the other riders up one spot on the grid. Álvaro Bautista therefore started from pole position and led the entire race, managing his advantage over the direct followers and finishing first, as he had done in Race 1.
Behind him, various riders jockeyed for position, but in the end it was Michael Van Der Mark besting the rest, managing to finish on the second step of the podium for the second time this weekend, ahead of Marco Melandri who, after taking third in yesterday’s race due to the penalty levied against Jonathan Rea, took a well-deserved position on the bottom step of the podium today.
Fourth place went to Jonathan Rea who rode a race from behind, making a truly astonishing comeback if you consider that there were only 10 laps in which to do it. Worth a mention is Alex Lowes’ crash on the fourth lap which gives him a pointless finish for this race as well, after the unfortunate result yesterday.
WSBK – Race 2
In what was a thrilling Race 2 at Jerez, an uncharacteristic error from Alvaro Bautista at the start of Lap 2 saw the Spaniard suffer his first racing crash in WorldSBK. The battle for the win came alive as Jonathan Rea and Michael van der Mark went head-to-head in the Spanish sun, resulting in the Dutchman taking his first win of 2019, while Razgatlioglu romped to third and yet another podium.
Into Turn 1 on the opening lap, Marco Melandri took the initial advantage, while a disaster for his fellow Yamaha rider Alex Lowes, who crashed at Turn 2 on the opening lap. Bautista took the lead at Turn 5 and Michael van der Mark followed him through as Melandri went wide. Jonathan Rea took the pair of Yamaha riders at Turn 6, in a bid to pursue Bautista at the front.
However, it was a disaster for the Spaniard at the beginning of Lap 2 as he crashed out of the lead! The championship leader was on the floor at Turn 1, with his ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati tumbling through the gravel. Bautista remounted but retired soon after. The race was now on, as Jonathan Rea led van der Mark and Marco Melandri, ahead of Toprak Razgatlioglu and Chaz Davies completing the top five.
With 15 laps to go, the top five were covered by a second but disaster struck again, this time at Turn 5, as Marco Melandri attempted an ambitious pass on Davies, resulting in both riders crashing out. Davies was clearly frustrated with his former teammate, as both of them lost the chance to achieve a good result with Bautista out. Three of the main protagonists had suffered terrible results – Jonathan Rea was now looking like he was going to walk away from Jerez with a strong haul of points.
Michael van der Mark wasn’t prepared to let Rea have it all his own way, as the Dutchman took the lead with 14 laps to go at Turn 6. Jonathan Rea initially stayed with the Yamaha of van der Mark but couldn’t keep with the relentless pace of the 26-year-old out front, as 10 laps later, he had pulled out a two seconds lead. Alvaro Bautista had re-joined and was circulating in 16th position, ready to pick up the pieces in case anyone else was to crash out.
Battles continued to develop down the field, as Michael Ruben Rinaldi, who rocketed through from 11th on the grid to be the top running Ducati in fourth position, ahead of a jostling Sandro Cortese and Leon Haslam, with the Brit getting ahead of the German in the closing stages at Turn 1.
A crash for Ryuichi Kiyonari at the fast Turn 11 resulted in gravel being put all over the circuit and a red flag coming out with two laps to go. Kiyonari walked away from the crash, although his bike was not so fortunate, having barrel rolled.
Michael van der Mark was a winner once again completing a faultless weekend, right the way through from FP1 to Race 2. Second position and closing the gap down to Bautista in the championship to 41 points, Jonathan Rea was happy to be back on the podium. It was another stunning ride from Toprak Razgatlioglu to complete the race in third position. Rinaldi took a career-best fourth, whilst Leon Haslam fought hard to complete the top five.
Just behind the Brit, Sandro Cortese took his best WorldSBK result. Seventh position belonged to Tom Sykes, who had a relatively quiet Acerbis Spanish Round, whilst Jordi Torres, Loris Baz and a superb Tommy Bridewell completed the top ten on a day where Independent teams took the majority of top ten placings.
Leandro Mercado had a good comeback in 11th, ahead of Markus Reiterberger, Yuki Takahashi and Alex Lowes in 14th place being the last of the point-scorers.
Michael van der Mark – P1
“What an amazing day! I was a bit upset with myself in the Sprint Race because I tried some optimistic overtakes that lost me a lot of time but in the end, I managed to finish second, which put me on the front row for Race 2. I got a good start but then Johnny passed me quite quickly and I was happy to sit behind him and conserve my tyres after Alvaro crashed out. But his pace wasn’t quite what I wanted to do and I could see the group behind were starting to catch us, so I decided to put in a pass and see if I could pull away, which I did. It’s been an incredible weekend and the bike has been great, with only very small changes required. I’m really happy with the progress made with the bike, so many thanks to the team and to Yamaha for all their hard work.”
Jonathan Rea – P2
“In the final race I did not have the pace of Mikey. I need to check the times but we definitely made a step with the bike set-up from yesterday afternoon to today, especially with the front end feeling in the faster corners. But over the lap there were some areas where I was very close, or even better than Michael, but in one crucial area I just lost too much. It is something we have been working on all weekend and today the bike was better. I needed a clean day today to finish both races strongly. This morning’s race took a lot out of me mentally and physically – coming from the back of the grid to try and make up all those positions in a short space of time. I am looking forward to Misano now.”
Toprak Razgatlioglu – P3
“Today I am really happy to take a second podium of the year. In this morning’s short race we tried a new set-up but I did not like it. We came back to the same set-up as we used earlier. Today I followed Michael van der Mark and Johnny, but I was on my limit. I watched Johnny as he has the same bike but my big problem was in turn 11 and 12. In the last eight laps my front tyre had started to slide and I reduced my pace because I was in a podium position.”
Leon Haslam – P5
“Every session we were struggling with the front traction and we ran a bit more angle and corner speed compared to some of the other Kawasaki riders and I think that has been hindering me, especially as the temperatures have risen. I have tried to adapt my style and played around a little bit with set-up. I felt in that final race of the weekend I had good pace and could have challenged for that third place but I get stuck behind Tom for too many laps. Then when I got past him I was pushing too hard, like I was before, making too many mistakes. I was just lining Rinaldi up when the red flags came out. Another fifth place, so obviously I am not too happy about the result, but we have managed a lot of problems here this weekend.”
Sandro Cortese – P6
“It was a good race this afternoon, which I finished with my best result of the season. The lap times increased a lot compared to Race 1 yesterday, which meant we didn’t quite have the set-up we needed to run with the front guys and challenge for maybe a fourth place finish today. But, we learned a lot and we know what we need to do for the next race, so I leave Jerez happy with the race result and with the progress we’ve made. Now I’m looking forward to the next race in Misano, where we will aim to fight once again with these guys and, hopefully, secure an even better result.”
Tom Sykes – P7
“All things considered, I really feel that we had a decent set of results. I’m a little bit disappointed with race two. I had a big moment in the fast last right hander. I lost the front with 170 km/h and the slide was over fifty metres so it was lucky that we were able to save it. I was able to catch up with the guys again but wasn’t able to pass. Overall, I think we had some decent results given where we are with the performance of the engine. We’re continuing to collect information for moving forward. So now my expectations are to keep the program developing towards the podium. That’s the ultimate target. When you look at the team, the manufacturer and the riders, we have high potential but obviously just for now we need to sit back and understand what we’ve got in this little gap and hopefully for Misano we can have another step forward.”
Álvaro Bautista – DNF
“Today was a day of two halves, in the sense that first we won the Superpole Race and then I crashed on lap 2 of the second race. It was a pity because I did nothing strange, I just lost the front, but racing is like that sometimes. The Jerez weekend was amazing, not only because of my two wins but also for the atmosphere here in the paddock, and for all the fans who came to the circuit to witness the show. Now we have only to continue the great work we did this weekend and try and repeat the same sensations in the next round at Misano.”
Chaz Davies – DNF
“I was quite aware that this was going to be a difficult weekend but I was hoping that with a good mind-set I could have got some decent results. On this type of circuit, with many longish corners, I was really far away with the set-up. I had a vibration issue with the bike in the Superpole Race, but then the guys did a great job to give me a good bike for the last race, where at least I could ride it OK. But then I got caught up in the incident with Melandri at Turn 5. I’m OK, I just picked up a big bruise on the hip and the side of the leg.”
Marco Melandri – DNF
“It was a shame to finish the weekend with a crash, but when you think about where we were just two weeks ago and then how we were able to fight for the podium in all three races here in Jerez, it’s something so positive for us. It’s unfortunate that Chaz didn’t leave me the same amount of space I left him when the positions were reversed on the previous lap, but for me it was a racing incident and nothing more. Like I said, it’s a shame, because another podium finish was a real possibility today, even if fighting with Toprak was difficult because he’s so aggressive on the brakes. Anyway, I go home from here much more positive for the future.”
Alvaro Bautista has claimed his 12th win of the season, with massive crowds turning out to cheer on the Spaniard on his home turf, with a dominant performance in Race 1 putting the rider back on form in the 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, with nearest challenger in the title race Jonathan Rea involved in a last lap-last corner fracas with Alex Lowes, that later saw penalties remove his podium placing.
Taking the lead between Turn 4 and 5 on the opening lap, nobody challenged Alvaro Bautista for the rest of the race, as the Spaniard set a scorching pace. Getting into a rhythm early on, Bautista never looked in doubt of winning at Jerez for the first time since his first ever World Championship victory back in 2006 in 125cc Grand Prix.
Becoming the first Spanish rider to win at Jerez, Bautista made it only the fifth occasion where a Spanish rider has won on Spanish soil – of which four have been achieved by Alvaro himself. Along with this, he faces more records, as one more win will level him overall in the wins table with Eugene Laverty and Aaron Slight, whilst winning the remaining two races will see him equal the number of wins by Scott Russell, John Kocinski and Ben Spies – all of which won championships.
“I’m really happy with this great win today. This morning we made a few small changes to the Panigale V4 R which allowed me to improve the feeling. In the Superpole we did a very fast time and managed to get onto the front row, which was our aim. In these conditions, because of the high temperature, I used up a lot of energy and also had to manage the tyre wear in the best way possible. On the opening lap I took the lead of the race and made my own pace, which I was able to administer until the chequered flag. I’m very happy to win again after Imola, and I’m proud to be the first Spanish rider to win an SBK race here at Jerez, in front of all my family, friends and fans. I want to dedicate this win to my grandfather, who passed away a few days ago, for sure he gave me extra motivation for this victory.”
Unfortunately, his team-mate Chaz Davies was unable to get in amongst the fight for the leading positions. Starting from eleventh place on the grid, the 32-year-old Welshman struggled throughout the race, showing a scarce feeling with his bike, and as a result he was not able to go any higher than seventh place.
“Today’s race was a tough one. After not getting a particularly good start, in the early laps the feeling with the bike wasn’t very good and I struggled to get into the rhythm. Then, in the middle part of the race I found myself a bit behind the group that was fighting for fifth place, but I couldn’t catch them. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to say, for me it was complicated just to get to the end of the race. The only positive aspect is that it was useful to do 20 laps in these conditions which allowed us to get a lot of information. We’ll have a look at all the data with the engineers and hopefully can come up with something good for tomorrow.”
After his tangle with Alex Lowes, Jonathan Rea has been handed penalties as a consequence. The four-time WorldSBK champion made a rash move on the Yamaha man at the final corner on the final lap, meaning that he has been dropped one position in the overall classification.
Additionally, the Northern Irishman has been handed a back of the grid start for his on-track escapade in Race 1. This promotes Marco Melandri to the podium in Race 1 – his second of the season, whilst ironically, Alex Lowes will benefit from a front row start.
“Our bike, with grip, was working incredibly well today, especially in the morning in the cooler conditions. I was able to build into that Superpole lap with a three stop strategy – first with a race tyre, then with a pre-qualifier and then at the end with the qualifying tyre. With the temperatures rising in the afternoon, maybe a combination of that, or what we changed on the rear of the bike a little, I really struggled right at the apex of the corners to turn around. It was putting so much stress on the front tyre. I tried to do the best I could, but when Alvaro came past it was on a completely different rhythm. I found myself on a similar pace to Alex. On the last lap I tried to be as close as possible to do something in the last corner. I saw him going wide on the racing line so I decided to do a cutback and go to the inside. Unfortunately at that point he was fully committed to the corner, I did not got through far enough, we had contact and he went down. I am really sorry for ending his race but it was a real racing accident; last lap, last corner battle.”
Both Pata Yamaha WorldSBK riders were involved in a race long battle for the podium in today’s opening WorldSBK encounter in Jerez. But while Michael van der Mark ended the day celebrating a superb run to second place, Alex Lowes was left battered and bruised.
Michael van der Mark
“The bike felt really good in Superpole, but I made a couple of mistakes than cost me a few tenths and that meant I started from the third row of the grid today. I got a good start, managed to make up quite a few places in the opening laps and then quickly settled into a good rhythm as I tried to conserve my tyres. When I passed Alex I was struggling a bit with the front and having to ride a bit differently, but I was still able to close on Johnny and then pass him for second. I tried to pull a gap straight away, but he managed to stay with me for a couple of laps before I could get away from him. The bike was really good today; the guys have done an amazing job and the package has improved, but we still need to find a little more improvement with the front ahead of the two races tomorrow.”
“Obviously I’m gutted with the eventual outcome of the race. I was struggling with the bike a little bit in the race, which meant I wasn’t able to stay with Michael, but I felt I could be consistent with the pace I had. It was a good battle with Johnny; I felt I was a bit stronger than him and with three laps to go managed to get in front. I put in a good, solid, clean last lap and I felt like I had the beating of Johnny but then he made a big error of judgement in the final corner and took me straight off the bike. It was a decent hit and I’m pretty sore right now. He’s been penalised for the move, but that doesn’t change the fact that I missed out on the podium and 16 really important points, which is a shame. Anyway, there are a few things we can improve on the bike; my pace has been strong all weekend and, luckily, we have two races tomorrow in which to try and make up for today’s loss. A disappointing result, but there are also plenty of positives we can take away from today.”
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK rider, Marco Melandri, who originally finished today in fourth place, was promoted to third five hours after the chequered flag due to the FIM’s subsequent 1-position penalty being imposed on Rea.Michael van der Mark
“Obviously it’s not the same getting a podium finish this way rather than being in a straight race for it, but I see this as like a present for the hard work of everyone in the team and at Yamaha that we did and are still doing. This result, even if it was a bit of a gift, will only motivate us further to make improvements so that, once again, we’re in a position to really fight for the podium on track.”
Few places on Earth are more motorbike-crazy than the southern Spanish town of Jerez, so with the Motul FIM Superbike World Championship making its way back to the Circuito de Jerez this weekend after a one-year absence, a passionate reception from the local fans is expected, and for one man in particular.
Alvaro Bautista heads into a home round for the second time this season as the man to beat – what has changed since then is that he is no longer unbeaten.
The Jerez circuit has long straights, for a length equal to 69 per cent of the entire track, and slow curves alternating with fast straights.
This will be the first time that the Andalusian circuit will host the production derived series at the beginning of June, usually the appointment has always been scheduled for September or October. Pirelli knows the circuit very well even though since it was resurfaced in 2017 it has only run for a year; so the asphalt could still represent an unknown factor.
Imola, four weeks ago, was in many ways a throwback to the last few years of WorldSBK before the Spaniard flipped the script this season. The two men trading barbs at the top of the timesheets, Jonathan Rea and Chaz Davies, have endured no shortage of frustrating moments so far this season after years upon years of one-upmanship – but the page may have turned at last.
Rea showed imperious form around the sleek Italian track, winning both races, breaking the lap record in Race 1 and overcoming his previously invincible rival by a combined 14.6 seconds. The four-time champion has tasted blood for the first time this year and is all the more dangerous for it.
“I’m excited to go to Jerez and understand our potential there. After the race weekend in Imola and a positive test at Misano I feel ready for this next challenge. Jerez is a very nice circuit to ride, especially the fast flowing corners at the end of the lap. It will be important to make a lot of laps during practice to prepare for the races, as it’s the first time we have raced in Jerez during the summer. The temperatures will be much higher than we experienced during our winter tests. With this in mind, we will work hard and try to keep the momentum going.”
Meanwhile, anyone browsing through a stats sheet may be led to believe that Davies’ weekend was little better than the four prior, nine-points a desperately low tally for one of Ducati’s favourite tracks. The Welshman has been at odds with the new V4 R since the start of the year, and while the battle in Italy was arguably lost, the war may have at last fallen in his favour. Only a mechanical failure and the cancellation of Race 2 kept Davies from taking a hat-trick of podiums at Imola, and perhaps even a first race win since April 2018. From Aragon last year to Jerez 2019, the drought will surely soon be behind him.
From the championship leader’s perspective, the Italian Round was more of an outlier than a change of fortunes. Imola is as old-school as they come: rough and testy for newcomers, a delight for the veterans; and while he fell into the former group in Italy – and still performed above expectations – Jerez is a completely different story.
There may not be a track on the calendar where Bautista has ridden more miles or with a wider variety of bikes, even making his WorldSBK debut there back in November. More to the point, on his very first day onboard the V4 R he finished barely a couple of tenths of a second behind Rea. There will be no such warnings this weekend.
Another anomaly at Imola was the lack of YZF-R1s on the rostrum in both races. Illness and an unshackled Toprak Razgatlioglu kept Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark off the podium, respectively; yet it still turned out to be the Japanese manufacturer’s best weekend at Imola in many years. A top-three return could be on the cards for Jerez, even with the number of potential frontrunners increasing every round.
Michael van der Mark
“Fortunately, we got a window of good weather on the second day of the Misano test and we managed to work our way through a lot of the test program, with the boys working hard to test as much as we could. Going back to Jerez is always nice, as we do a lot of testing there in the winter. This year there is a new surface again, so it will be interesting to see how the bike will feel compared to the tests. I feel really good with the bike at the moment and the base set-up has worked well at the last few tracks, so I think we can be really strong this weekend in Jerez. The podium is the target; we were close in Imola, but not quite close enough.”
“We got a lot done with the limited amount of dry track time we had on the afternoon of the second day in Misano. We managed to complete most of our test plan but, obviously, we didn’t get the chance to do any long runs. We made some steps forward with the bike and I’m happy with how the test went. Jerez is a track I really enjoy and one where we do a lot of laps in the winter, although the temperature will be a lot higher for the race weekend. In the past it’s also been a track that suits our Yamaha R1 and, with the steps we’ve made this year with the bike, I’m heading to Spain confident we can be in the fight for the podium in all three races this weekend.”
That leads us to perhaps the biggest story emerging from Team Blue this round: the long-awaited return of one of WorldSBK’s most beloved squads, Ten Kate Racing. The Dutch squad, world champions in both WorldSBK and WorldSSP alongside Honda, have partnered with Yamaha for this new chapter, recruiting Loris Baz for the ride. After last week’s soaked out Misano shakedown, the French racer and Ten Kate are ready to put their savoir-faire into action.
Loris Baz – Ten Kate Yamaha Supported WorldSBK
“While conditions at the Misano test weren’t ideal for me or the team, given that this was our first outing with the Yamaha R1, we were certainly all happy to be back! We managed to work thought a lot at the test, although it would have been nice to get a third day with full dry conditions. But I was happy with the test; I managed to improve my lap time with every exit, which was cool, but I still need to work out how to get the best from the bike on a new tyre. Now we head into our first race weekend in Jerez, a track I know very well indeed, which is an advantage. It will be fun to race again and I’m really happy that we now have three races each weekend, because this provides us with more opportunity to learn the bike and the tyres. Friday will be about finding a base set-up on the bike and me finding my pace after such a long break from racing, but our goal is to try and reduce the gap to the front with each session. I’m looking forward to it!”
If race pace was the one factor taken into consideration to judge a rider’s merits, few were more brilliant in Italy than Tom Sykes. Yet wherever the Yorkshireman went misfortune followed, technical and tyre issues leading to a meagre return of two points over the weekend. Silver lining? The S1000 RR looks like a rocket in the making, particularly in his hands. A first podium cannot be too far off for the increasingly competitive BMW Motorrad project – but will it arrive in Jerez?
Elsewhere down the field, Yuki Takahashi replaces the injured Leon Camier to form an all-Japanese alliance with Ryuichi Kiyonari. Tommy Bridewell will once again be filling in for Eugene Laverty, after his outstanding, last-minute replacement job in Italy, while ‘Tati’ Mercado is set to return from his scaphoid injury after a two-month absence.
WorldSBK of Jerez Stats
After the first thirteen races of the season, there have been only two winners: Alvaro Bautista who took 11 victories so far, and Jonathan Rea, who won twice. It is the first time that this happens in WorldSBK history. The previous record was 12 wins took by only two riders since the beginning of the season. It occurred in 2003 when Neil Hodgson won 11 times, and James Toseland once. The string was broken by Ruben Xaus, Hodgson’s team-mate, who claimed a double in Misano.
Jonathan Rea in Jerez will make his first attempt at reaching 150 WorldSBK podiums: his tally is now 147. No one so far has reached the 150-podium mark in history. Within Rea’s reach, there is also the record of podiums for a single manufacturer: he climbed on the podium 105 times for Kawasaki, and the record is 107, set by his former team-mate Tom Sykes with Kawasaki.
Jonathan Rea has recorded his 24th straight podium in Imola, and he is just one shy of the all-time record sequence set by Colin Edwards from the second to the last race of the 2002 season.
Race 1 in Jerez will be for the ARUBA.IT Racing Ducati rider Chaz Davies the 190th WorldSBK race; the Superpole Race will be his 140th start with Ducati.
The sixth place on the grid is Davies’ lucky one in Jerez: he won all his three races at the Spanish circuit starting from there.
The last six wins at Circuito de Jerez Angel Nieto were all taken by British riders: 3 by Chaz Davies, 2 by Rea, and 1 by Sykes.
Five times out of six, the winner scored the double in Jerez: 1990 (Roche); 2013 (Laverty, Moriwaki Althea Honda Team); 2014 (Melandri, GRT Yamaha WorldSBK); 2016 (Davies); 2017 (Rea).
In the first seven races run in Jerez, five times it was the poleman who went on to win the race, the last one in 2015, Race 1 (Sykes). Since then, none of the five wins here came from pole.
Only one win here didn’t come from the first six spots of the grid: that was Jonathan Rea, winning from 9th on the grid in 2017, Race 2.
If Leon Haslam gets a podium from Jerez onwards, his interval between his first and last podium will go beyond 15 years. So far only two riders were able to score podiums in races more than 15 years apart: Troy Corser (16 years, 1 month, 25 days between his maiden podium in Donington, 1994 and his last one in Misano, 2010) and Noriyuki Haga (15 years, 1 month between Sugo 1996 and Imola 2011).
After a dramatic Pirelli Italian Round, the WorldSSP championship heads to sunny Spain and the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto, just outside of Jerez de la Frontera. Championship leader Randy Krummenacher heads his teammate, Federico Caricasulo, by 22 points and will be eager to build on his gap. However, could come from elsewhere at the Acerbis Spanish Round.
Randy Krummenacher’s season has been nothing short of superb, having achieved three wins and two second places, firmly establishing himself at the forefront of the WorldSSP field. The Swiss rider heads to Jerez and a circuit at which he has never scored points at since his arrival into the WorldSBK and WorldSSP paddocks. Should he achieve another victory, the 29-year-old will have taken back-to-back wins at the third time of asking; something that Switzerland has never achieved in WorldSSP.
Whilst Krummenacher has been on the podium, his teammate, Federico Caricasulo has shadowed him every step of the way, also taking five podiums from five races. The Italian, who was robbed of victory by a technical issue on the final lap at Imola, will hope to strike back at Jerez. The last time WorldSSP came to Jerez, Caricasulo was the winner, starting from pole and achieving the fastest lap. Could Jerez be the turning point for the 23-year-old?
What looked like a promising Imola ended in a bit of a disappointment for Jules Cluzel, as the Frenchman took his worst result of the season after leading in the early laps. Caught up in an accident with fellow Frenchman Lucas Mahias and Thomas Gradinger, Cluzel managed a seventh place but lost touch in the title race. He’s now 37 points adrift of the lead but comes to Jerez, where has was second in 2017. Can he go one better in 2019?
It was a splendid Imola weekend for Hikari Okubo, who took a career-best result in WorldSSP. Now, heading to Jerez, Okubo wants to build on his strong season, having yet to finish outside of the top eight in 2019. He will also be eager to end the nation’s podium drought, with the last Japanese rider mounting the podium being Katsuaki Fujiwara at Silverstone in 2007. Can Okubo impress at a circuit where his best result is 13th?
Raffaele De Rosa was back at the sharp end in Italy, taking a home podium at Imola to elevate him back to fifth in the overall standings. De Rosa will be looking for his first back-to-back podiums in almost a season, the Italian will look hope to achieve a good result at a circuit which he knows well. However, this will be his first time at Jerez on a WorldSSP machine, which promises excitement as he seeks a return to the podium.
Placed sixth in the championship, Thomas Gradinger endured more bad luck in Imola, suffering his second retirement which was no fault of his own. Still, on his day, the Austrian rider is fighting hard at the front of the field and will be desperate to get back on the podium for the second time. However, Jerez is a new circuit for the Kallio Racing rider to undertake, making Free Practice sessions very important if he wants a top result.
Watch out for Lucas Mahias at Jerez, as he looks like his 2017 WorldSSP Championship winning self. Isaac Viñales is hoping for a good homecoming, whilst Ayrton Badovini and Peter Sebestyen will both want to return to the top ten for a second consecutive round.
The WorldSSP300 Championship will be the busiest it has ever been, with two action-packed races on the horizon at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto. It will be a thrilling weekend, with two races meaning that stakes are very high, and riders will need to capitalize on the Free Practice sessions for optimum race pace. Heading the championship standings with a perfect 50 points, Manuel Gonzalez will hope to retain his advantage.
Two wins from two races, Manuel Gonzalez has battled hard to take his first career victories. The Spaniard, who heads to his second home event of the season, will be eager to put on a strong show in front of his home crowd. The 16-year-old, from Madrid, wildcarded at Jerez back in 2017 and finished 34th, although he will be sure to improve on that this weekend, in order to remain at the front of the championship battle.
Veteran WorldSSP300 rider and three-time race winner Scott Deroue knows better than anyone that this is the perfect opportunity to take points off Gonzalez. Finishing second at Jerez back in 2017, the Dutchman will hope to capitalize on Gonzalez’s relative inexperience at the circuit at WorldSSP300 level. Can Deroue halt Gonzalez’s charge in 2019?
Just a few points back from Deroue, Hugo De Cancellis has made a strong start to his 2019 campaign. The French rider, who has taken one podium in 2019, will take heart from the fact that his consistency has put him in the championship fight. In the first two seasons of WorldSSP300 action, the eventual champion has never won in the opening two rounds of the season. Will De Cancellis start winning at Jerez?
It is a fourth different nationality lying in fourth in the championship, with Jan-Ole Jahnig sitting on 29 points, some 21 behind Gonzalez. The German rider was fourth at MotorLand Aragon and third at TT Circuit Assen, highlighting his progression as the season unfolds. The 18-year-old made one appearance at Jerez in 2017 but wasn’t classified. Will he be a race win challenger?
Completing the top five is Omar Bonoli, who has shown flashes of brilliance in his young WorldSSP300 career. A seventh place at MotorLand Aragon was followed up by a sixth-place finish and a fastest lap at Assen, meaning the progress is certainly showing for Bonoli. The 17-year-old Italian will look to make up for lost points at Imola with two strong races at Jerez, a circuit which is new to him, despite not being classified in 2017.
There are plenty of other names to keep an eye on, with Galang Hendra Pratama being the last – and so-far only – winner in the class at Jerez. Former Jerez WorldSSP300 pole-sitter Marc Garcia will want to return to the front, whilst reigning champion Ana Carrasco will seek to improve on her 11th place championship position. Andy Verdoia will be another rider in the mix, having completed the seventh addition of the VR46 Master Camp.
Alvaro Bautista’s winning streak continued at Assen despite a max-rpm penalty and weather, with the weekend’s racing all held on Sunday, while the Sprint was cancelled. Taking both race wins the 34-year-old from Talavera de la Reina now equals Jonathan Rea’s consecutive winning streak of 11, albeit with Rea’s race wins being full length races.
The weekend saw Rea and Michael van der Mark swap the final podium positions each claiming a second-place result and third-place result, with Bautista leaving Assen on 236 points to Rea’s 183. Van der Mark sits fourth in the standings on 115, 11-points behind teammate Alex Lowes.
WorldSBK Race 1
It was a brilliant start by Markus Reiterberger, who was up to second position, demoting Michael van der Mark, while Leon Haslam was fourth. Rocketing through on the first lap from eighth, Jonathan Rea was fifth by the end of the lap one, before getting his teammate for fourth at Turn 1 at the start of lap two.
As the race settled down, Michael van der Mark began to drop back, unable to fight off a rampant Jonathan Rea. Soon, the Dutchman had Alex Lowes for company, whilst out front, Alvaro Bautista was beginning to stretch Reiterberger. Rea was starting to close but not enough to get on terms with Reiterberger straight away.
Chaz Davies was in a battle with Tom Sykes, before starting to pull away in the middle of the race. Behind Sykes in the same battle were the leading Independent riders, consisting of Jordi Torres and Toprak Razgatlioglu. The two riders swapped positions rather aggressively between Turns 1 and Turn 2. The Spaniard still able to stay ahead of the Turkish rider.
With five laps to go, ‘Pocket Rocket’ Leon Haslam had started to line up the rear end of Alex Lowes’ Yamaha, as the two continued to battle and fight. Despite trying to pull away, Haslam was able to remain with Lowes and eventually, with three laps to go, made the pass at the final chicane. However, a mistake by Haslam at Turn 7 allowed Lowes back ahead, making for a great last lap between the two.
However, at the front, it was business as usual for Alvaro Bautista, who made history to take the win at Assen and become the first rider to win the opening ten races of a WorldSBK season. Jonathan Rea finished second once again in another damage limitation ride, whereas it home-hero Michael van der Mark who completed the podium – his first of the season. Alex Lowes put in the ride of his life with a determined fourth position, ahead of WorldSBK returnee Leon Haslam.
A fine ride by Markus Reiterberger saw him take a stunning sixth position, whilst Chaz Davies was seventh, a further 1.8s behind the German revelation. It was a big battle on the final run to line between Jordi Torres and Toprak Razgatlioglu, with the Spaniard holding on for eighth position and Toprak in ninth. A dejected Tom Sykes could only manage tenth.
Outside of the top ten, Leon Camier was in eleventh, with Marco Melandri recovering to 12th ahead of his teammate Sandro Cortese. Eugene Laverty couldn’t replicate his Aragon success and was 14th, whilst Ryuichi Kiyonari rounded out the points. Hector Barbera was two laps down in 16th.
Bautista’s win makes it the first for Ducati at TT Circuit Assen since Sylvain Guintoli in 2012, Race 1. He is also the first rider ever in WorldSBK history to take ten victories in the opening ten races. There were no crashers in the race, but Italians Alessandro Delbianco and Michael Ruben Rinaldi retired.
WorldSBK Race 1 – Assen
A. BAUTISTA ESP ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati
J. REA GBR Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK +3.130
M. VAN DER MARK NED Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team +4.934
A. LOWES GBR Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team +10.679
L. HASLAM GBR Kawasaki Racing Team +10.859
M. REITERBERGER GER BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team +15.105
C. DAVIES GBR ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati +17.001
J. TORRES ESP Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki +20.227
T. RAZGATLIOGLU TUR Turkish Puccetti Racing +20.276
T. SYKES GBR BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team +21.748
L. CAMIER GBR Moriwaki Althea Honda Team +32.686
M. MELANDRI ITA GRT Yamaha +38.777
S. CORTESE GER GRT Yamaha +43.075
E. LAVERTY IRL Team Goeleven +46.018
R. KIYONARI JPN Moriwaki Althea Honda Team +46.293
H. BARBERA ESP Orelac Racing VerdNatura +2 Laps
WorldSBK Race 2
Once more, WorldSBK went to war on the famous TT Circuit Assen layout, with ten riders in the leading group in the early stages. However, after an incredible start, Jonathan Rea couldn’t hold off Alvaro Bautista any longer, as the Spaniard battled through to take an 11th race win of the year!
A frantic first lap saw Jonathan Rea erupt through the grid from eighth and was already up to the lead by Turn 5, in what was an impressive opening few corners from the reigning four-time champion. Alvaro Bautista was placed in second but under some serious pressure from home-hero, Michael van der Mark. Leon Haslam was also right in the mix during the opening laps, whilst Alex Lowes and Chaz Davies completed the top six.
The race unfolded, and Jonathan Rea was putting in a fantastic effort to defend from Bautista, standing the bike up on the apex of Turn 5 in order to back Bautista up into the chasing pack. Chaz Davies was able to climb up the order and got as high as third, while Michael van der Mark was being pushed back down the order, to fifth.
On lap six, Bautista, who had been continuously probing and searching for a way ahead of Rea, made his move at the fierce Turn 8, slamming his Ducati down the inside. The move rattled Rea, who needed to fight back straight away to get a hold of Bautista before he stretched away. The Northern Irishman was then passed by Chaz Davies at Turn 9 and Ducati were first and second at Assen.
Rea was soon back into the second place, getting ahead of Davies at the final chicane. Alex Lowes was still ahead of his teammate, but Leon Haslam was the rider who looked rather ominous, lapping quicker than the two Yamaha riders ahead. Just behind, it was another solid ride from Markus Reiterberger who was seventh for the majority of the race.
From the middle of the race, it was a phenomenal ride from Michael van der Mark, who was lapping far quicker than everyone ahead of him, including Bautista at one point. The Dutch rider was heroic, bridging a huge gap in short time to catch Jonathan Rea with just three laps remaining.
At Turn 13, around the outside, a brave van der Mark roared ahead, with Rea now facing losing more points to Bautista. As Rea went backwards, it was his teammate Haslam who suffered a similar fate after looking so strong, sliding back behind the BMWs of Reiterberger and Tom Sykes.
With the last lap upon us, Bautista had secured enough of an advantage to secure another win, and despite a desperate attempt by Rea at Turn 10 to get ahead of van der Mark – where they collided – it wasn’t enough, with the crowd’s favourite battling hard to remain ahead.
Bautista took the victory but on a run to the line, Rea got alongside van der Mark, but the Dutch star held on ahead of the reigning four-time WorldSBK Champion! Fourth position was secured by Alex Lowes ahead of Chaz Davies, whilst Markus Reiterberger held off Tom Sykes on a run to the line for his second consecutive sixth position.
In eighth position, Leon Haslam struggled home, some 20 seconds behind race winner Bautista. He was only just ahead of the two Independent Kawasaki riders of Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jordi Torres, completing the top ten in that respective order.
Outside of the top ten, it was Sandro Cortese in 11th and Leon Camier in 12th, whilst Eugene Laverty could only manage 13th. Marco Melandri completed a miserable weekend in 14th after a fierce battle with those ahead of him, whilst Michael Ruben Rinaldi was the last point-scorer. Hector Barbera was 16th ahead of Alessandro Delbianco. Ryuichi Kiyonari retired.
Bautista’s win is a new record in WorldSBK, having won the opening 11 WorldSBK races of a season. He gives Ducati their 352nd race win in WorldSBK and their 27th at the TT Circuit Assen. It is also Spain’s 48th win in the WorldSBK class.
With his 11th win, it puts him level with Jonathan Rea in terms of consecutive race wins, something the reigning champion only achieved last year! It also puts him level with Ruben Xaus, Regis Laconi and Stephane Mertens with number of wins in their WorldSBK career.
Álvaro Bautista – P1
“I’m very happy because I won two races at a circuit which was maybe not very favourable for us, and where the Kawasakis had always won in the past. The weekend didn’t get off to the best start on Friday, but in any case we managed to be consistent and competitive. Today we did two full-distance 21-lap races and I can tell you that I used up all my energy, but my training helped me a lot. In the first race in the morning there were very cold conditions, but I tried to get a good start and set my own pace right from the start. I was able to open up a bit of a gap on my rivals and manage the situation well to go on to win Race 1. In Race 2 to be honest I didn’t expect to see Rea ahead of me at Turn 4 because he was on the third row, but he made an incredible start. In the early laps I was taking it easy, trying to stay up and study him well but I could see that his pace was a bit slow so I decided to pass him. I always tried to give my all, in fact we also improved on the circuit record, so it was another wonderful weekend.”
Michael van der Mark – P2
“Today was proper old school Superbike, with two long races in one day. This morning we had to go with the harder rear tyre because the track was quite cold. It made the bike difficult to ride because the rear was spinning quite a lot and there wasn’t so much feeling, but we knew this would be the case and it was definitely the right choice for the race. In the second race the temperature had risen enough to go with the soft option rear, but the pace at the start of the race wasn’t as high as I’d expected. I could see Johnny in front of me, but I was battling with a few riders and trying not to lose position, so I couldn’t chase earlier in the race. I tried to stay calm and, once clear of the battles, I managed to close the gap to Johnny and was planning to make the move with two laps to go. But then the opportunity came to go around the outside of him in a fifth gear corner a lap early, so I took it. After that we had a good battle, I think we touched at least once around the back part of the circuit, but we were both struggling for grip at that point. The team did a great job with the bike this weekend, so thanks to them, and a big thank you to the Dutch fans for their support, in what were very cold conditions for anyone sat in the grandstands. I’m happy we could repay them with two podiums today.”
Jonathan Rea – P3
“I felt good in the fight and my team gave me a good bike to fight with and keep the gap quite stable for a while. I enjoyed today and it was like good old Superbike, two long races in one day. I feel like the only difference today was that I had a shorter time to take lunch and prepare for race two. But it was not anything extraordinary. I really feel like we maximised our potential with the bike this weekend. I felt good with the bike and we were stronger in some sectors and weaker in others compared to Alvaro. Even in the cold conditions I felt like the grip level was really, really good but at the end when the tyres were dropping, I lost a lot of grip. The bike became more physical to ride. Apart from that I was very impressed with the potential of the tyres and I was able to run quite consistently in the start to middle of the second race. I am pretty content.”
Alex Lowes – P4
“I didn’t feel so strong in the colder conditions of the first race this morning, but it was good to get into a bit of a battle with Leon in the race and even better to beat him to fourth place on the last lap. I felt a lot stronger in the second race, when the slight increase in temperature meant we could run the soft rear tyre. I got up into third after passing Michael and I felt quite good, but then when he came back past me there were a couple of sections where he was a bit stronger than me and I couldn’t quite stay with him. I have to be happy with two fourth places, as this was the best we could do here today, so I’ll take the points and start looking now towards the next race in Imola. Congratulations to Michael and the team, as it was great to see a double podium again today. There’s a fantastic atmosphere in the team and we’re making steps forward every week, which is good to see and great to be a part of.”
“Jumping onto the podium at Aragón was great then coming here and not getting a podium could be a bit of a disappointment, but I felt like I put together a decent second race. The first race was tough, I had a bit of contact with Johnny in the first corner, got pushed out and just didn’t make any progression in the race. The second race was good, I got a decent start and got up to second for a lap but then just struggled a bit with the balance of the bike after six or seven laps and in the longer corners in particular. We need to look at that and become more comfortable in these areas. It would have been nice to stay in the fight close to the podium, but it just goes to show that we have some work to do to improve in every track.”
Markus Reiterberger – P6
“I am really happy. The weekend in Assen was great and a big thank you goes to my team for their hard work. We have taken another step and I felt really good on the RR all weekend. I got off to a great start in the opening race and was able to match the pace at the front of the field for the first few laps. After seven or eight laps, however, I had a few issues with the grip on the rear tyre – there was quite a lot of movement entering and exiting the corners. I took wider lines and consequently made two mistakes, and I was forced off while overtaking on one occasion. Despite this, however, I was able to finish in the top six. The second race also went well. We made a few changes to the balance of the bike. Unfortunately, my start was not so good in race two and we lost a few positions. I was able to maintain the same level for a relatively long time. In the end, I fancied myself to finish fifth, but I lost a lot of time behind (Leon) Haslam. That allowed (Chaz) Davies to escape in fifth place. We can now recharge our batteries a bit and prepare for the next races. We are heading in the right direction and will continue to work on further improving the chassis.”
Tom Sykes – P7
“Everyone has seen the potential of the BMW S 1000 RR is high considering how early the project is. Although the positions weren’t what I was hoping for today, on the positive side we have gained a lot of information. I was able to see where I am losing out and during the race that was confirmed it. We will try to improve now where we are missing out and moving forward we know that we progress on this in the next race. Markus rode really well today, I knew he would be strong from his race here last year on the Superstock bike. One of the positives we can take forward is that in general the RR is working in the right direction. We have been consistently around five seconds from P2 in most races so given my experience and the level of the whole BMW Motorrad WorldSBK team, I think we will get to where we need to be throughout the season.”
WorldSBK Race 2 Results – Assen
A. BAUTISTA ESP ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati
M. VAN DER MARK NED Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team +4.688
J. REA GBR Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK +4.706
A. LOWES GBR Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team +10.073
C. DAVIES GBR ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati +13.667
M. REITERBERGER GER BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team +15.373
T. SYKES GBR BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team +15.387
L. HASLAM GBR Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK +20.915
T. RAZGATLIOGLU TUR Turkish Puccetti Racing +22.922
J. TORRES ESP Team Pedercini Racing +23.518
S. CORTESE GER GRT Yamaha WorldSBK +28.286
L. CAMIER GBR Moriwaki Althea Honda Team +36.039
E. LAVERTY IRL Team Goeleven +36.359
M. MELANDRI ITA GRT Yamaha +36.895
M. RINALDI ITA BARNI Racing Team +36.913
H. BARBERA ESP Orelac Racing VerdNatura +37.095
A. DELBIANCO ITA Althea Mie Racing Team +1’10.200
2019 WorldSBK Rider standings following Assen
BAUTISTA Alvaro SPA 236
REA Jonathan GBR 183
LOWES Alex GBR 126
VAN DER MARK Michael NDL 115
HASLAM Leon GBR 93
DAVIES Chaz GBR 76
MELANDRI Marco ITA 69
CORTESE Sandro GER 64
SYKES Tom GBR 54
TORRES Jordi SPA 49
RAZGATLIOGLU Toprak TUR 46
RINALDI Michael Ruben ITA 36
REITERBERGER Markus GER 35
LAVERTY Eugene IRE 32
CAMIER Leon GBR 26
MERCADO Leandro ARG 11
KIYONARI Ryuichi JPN 10
DELBIANCO Alessandro ITA 3
The FIM Supersport World Championship was a yet another fair-bashing, head-to-head squabble, with nothing but pure action prevailing throughout the 18-lap encounter. In a group of six riders, it would be Federico Caricasulo who would take his first win of the season, to claw back points on his championship-leading teammate!
It was a frantic opening lap that saw Raffaele De Rosa lead into Turn 1, whilst Randy Krummenacher slotted into second position. It was a rapid start for Austrian rider Thomas Gradinger who was up to a mighty third position, whereas the same could not be said for Federico Caricasulo, who dropped down as far as eighth on the opening lap from second position on the grid. Hannes Soomer maintained his starting position on the opening lap, with fourth position ahead of Jules Cluzel in fifth.
Krummenacher took the lead of the race at the end of the opening lap, whilst title rival Jules Cluzel had pushed his way through the field to be fantastic second by Turn 6. It was a good opening few laps of the race for the pairing of Lucas Mahias Hikari Okubo, running well within what started out as a leading group of nine riders.
The group then fragmented, with top five escaping and initially leaving Lucas Mahias behind. However, it was a strong mid-race that brought Mahias back into the fight, bridging a big gap and setting the fastest lap of the race at the same time.
Federico Caricasulo had begun his fight back and was already up to second, courtesy of mistakes of other riders. Raffaele De Rosa was also putting hard moves on riders, with a bold move at Turn 1 for third position, shoving Cluzel off line and back to sixth. Momentarily, this allowed Krummenacher and Caricasulo to escape.
However, just half a lap later, De Rosa crashed out at Turn 9, under pressure from Thomas Gradinger and trying to get back in the fight for the lead.
The Italian was OK, remounted but returned his MV Agusta to the pits for a second non-score of the WorldSSP season. Now with the leading group down to five riders, the gloves were starting to come off!
The final lap soon beckoned and having stalked teammate Krummenacher for the majority of the second half of the race, Caricasulo put in a classy, sophisticated pass at Turn 8 to lead the race for the first time with just half a lap left to go. Krummenacher rode closely for the remaining few corners but wasn’t able to get back ahead!
Caricasulo took the victory ahead of his teammate, whilst Thomas Gradinger made history for Austria as he gave the nation their first WorldSSP podium. Jules Cluzel was off the podium for the second consecutive race in fourth, whilst Lucas Mahias took his best finish in 2019 with fifth, a little over a second back of winner, Federico Caricasulo.
Corentin Perolari was a strong sixth position, holding off Hikari Okubo and Isaac Viñales. Rounding out the top ten, Glenn van Straalen was ninth and put on a fantastic display in front of his massive home crowd, whereas completing the top ten was Jules Danilo, who finished as top Honda, following a late crash for Estonian, Hannes Soomer.
Federico Caricasulo – P1
“I’m really happy to win, especially here in Assen, which is not one of my favourite tracks. I worked hard all weekend with the team to make sure I had the best bike possible today and, in the race, I tried to ride more with my head than my heart. I took it fairly easy from the start, as I was running the harder option front tyre and knew it would take time to get up to temperature, but the pace was there from the start and I was able to work my way up to the leading group quite quickly. It’s a great feeling to win my first race of the season and the first with this team and I want to thank everyone in the team for such a fantastic job.”
Thomas Gradinger – P3
“I am so happy! In Aragon we showed we could be in the fight for the podium, but just missed out in the end, so it’s like a dream to come to the very next race and actually finish on the podium for the first time. It was a really tough race, especially at the start, but I managed to work my way up to the leading group and into third place with six laps to go. Once there I just tried to defend the position to the very last lap and it was amazing to cross the line in third place to finish on the podium finally. Big thanks to me team, my crew and my family, who have worked so hard for me. It’s just amazing.”
Lucas Mahias – P5
“The feeling from this race is that one thing is good and one thing not so good. I am happy because I followed the leading group closely and the gap to first position is very small. But I am a little bit disappointed because it is difficult in some places on the track. When I exit turn four, I lose on that sector and then I have to push very hard in the third and fourth sectors to come back. I finished every lap just behind, lap after lap. So I realised that it would be impossible to win, but I continued to push in case I could get onto the podium somehow. I am happy because the feeling on the bike is really great and the chassis is perfect. I got a good feeling back at this race and that is very good for the future. Thanks to the team because race-after-race they improve the set-up.”
World Supersport Race Result – Assen
F. CARICASULO ITA BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team
R. KRUMMENACHER SUI BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team +0.032
T. GRADINGER AUT Kallio Racing +0.223
J. CLUZEL FRA GMT94 YAMAHA +0.580
L. MAHIAS FRA Kawasaki Puccetti Racing +1.277
C. PEROLARI FRA GMT94 YAMAHA +13.748
H. OKUBO JPN Kawasaki Puccetti Racing +13.873
I. VINALES ESP Kallio Racing +13.959
G. VAN STRAALEN NED EAB Racing +20.784
J. DANILO FRA CIA Landlord Insurance Honda +21.632
World Supersport Standings after Assen
Randy Krummenacher 90
Federico Caricasulo 73
Jules Cluzel 69
Thomas Gradinger 40
Hikari Okubo 37
Corentin Perolari 34
Lucas Mahias 32
Raffaele De Rosa 31
Isaac Vinales 27
Hector Barbera 22 …19. Tom Toparis 5
World Supersport 300
WorldSSP300 once again put on a phenomenal show to complete has been an incredible Motul Dutch Round for the World Supersport 300 championship. 19 riders battled hard to see who would take the victory in front of a packed Assen crowd, which eventually saw Manuel Gonzalez take a second career win!
Pole position was taken by Galang Hendra Pratama, who got an incredible start and led by Turn 1. However, despite the big initial gap, the race was far from over, as Manuel Gonzalez pushed through to lead, whilst Hugo De Cancellis also came through the field. Teammate Omar Bonoli was also a prominent figure in the leading group, along with Ana Carrasco, Scott Deroue and Nick Kalinin.
As the leaders swapped and changed in frantic fashion throughout the race, there were some massive accidents. Tom Edwards crashed at the ferocious Turn 7, with his bike taking a huge beating on Lap 3. Also crashing in front of him at the same corner and on the same lap, were Kevin Arduini and his teammate, Jack Hyde.
In a race which saw riders drop back and then surge forwards, one of the most notable improvers was Bruno Ieraci, who qualified in 28th place but was up in the lead on the final lap, having to fend off the likes of Ana Carrasco and Manuel Gonzalez!
It was chaos at the final chicane, as all 19 riders looked to try and make up as many positions as possible. Contact between Jan-Ole Jahnig and Manuel Gonzalez forced the Spaniard off track at the final chicane, but he crossed the line in first! Scott Deroue was in third place as the chasing pack crossed the line, with 2.3s covering the top 19!
After a small pause as race direction looked at the results, Gonzalez maintained his victory while Jahnig was forced to drop a place for exceeding track limits! Deroue took second in front of his home fans, whilst Jahnig was third and achieved his first podium! Nick Kalinin was fourth whilst Hugo De Cancellis was fifth.
Manuel Gonzalez – P1
“Again victory, but it was so difficult. Last week it was in the last corner and here again in the last corner. We did really good work in all the practice and qualifying sessions. The bike was very good but it was difficult for me to overtake in the corners. In the straights I could manage to pass and in the last sector I wanted to be first! So thanks to the team for all the work they have done.”
Scott Deroue – P2
“It is always special to be at home and take a podium in front of your friends, family and sponsors. Last year we were strong in Imola as well but in the last lap we crashed. In the other races we were strong so I think the rest of the season we can do the same, and that is my goal. Aragon and Assen are really slipstream races but in Imola and Donington, for example, it is more about pace and corners. There are not so many straights. So I am really looking forward to the other races to see how fast we are there.”
World Supersport 300 Race Results
M. GONZALEZ ESP Kawasaki ParkinGO Team
S. DEROUE NED Kawasaki MOTOPORT +0.143
J. JAHNIG GER Freudenberg KTM Junior Team +0.320
N. KALININ UKR Nutec – RT Motorsports by SKM – Kawasaki +0.417
H. DE CANCELLIS FRA Team Trasimeno +0.450
O. BONOLI ITA Team Trasimeno +0.500
B. IERACI ITA Kawasaki GP Project +0.588
A. CARRASCO ESP Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300 +0.780
In cold, windy conditions the 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship continued to put on a phenomenal show at the Motul Dutch Round during their Tissot Superpole session.
Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) sneaked pole position with a minute to go but big crashes involving Ryuichi Kiyonari (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) at Turn 15 brought the red flags out and a premature end to the session.
Championship leader Alvaro Bautista was back up the sharp end of proceedings on Saturday, having endured a difficult opening day by his own standards. The Spaniard was a persistent top three runner throughout the session and maintained his front row starting record, placing on pole position for a third consecutive round.
Teammate Chaz Davies, who has never had a pole position or win at the TT Circuit Assen, featured inside the top ten for the entirety of the session, completing it in seventh position and without setting a fast time on the Superpole tyre.
Michael van der Mark enjoyed a positive Superpole session, finishing second at the end. The Dutch rider will look to add to his win tally from the front row, with his first front row starting place after Superpole since his only pole position in Thailand, back in 2016!
It was a positive start to the session for Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) as he led the session for the most of the first half. Having suffered two big crashes on the opening day of action on Friday, it was a pleasant return to the front for the third-placed man in the championship. Lowes finished in fourth at the end of the session.
It was a fantastic session for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team, as Tom Sykes and Markus Reiterberger continued their progress throughout the session. Before the red flag, Tom Sykes had been inside the top four but eventually slipped to sixth having not set a time with the Superpole tyre, whilst Markus Reiterberger bolted in a lap time for his best ever Superpole starting position of third – becoming the first German rider to start on the front row at Assen. It is BMW’s first front row at Assen since Troy Corser in third in 2010.
It was another difficult Tissot Superpole session for Kawasaki riders, as fifth was the best that Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) could manage. The British rider will be looking to mount the podium from the second row on his return to WorldSBK racing at TT Circuit Assen. His teammate Jonathan Rea was outside of the front row for the second consecutive round, with an eighth place – the red flag hindering his progress at the end. The reigning four-time WorldSBK Champion had beaten Bautista across all session leading up to Superpole, so expect a race charge from the Northern Irishman.
Once again there were two Independent team riders who made the top ten, with Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) achieving his second consecutive ninth place start after the Tissot Superpole session. The Spaniard will be looking to remain inside the top ten during the races. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) completes the top ten but the Turkish rider was taken to the medical centre after his Turn 15 crash that brought a red flag out to the session.
Other notable positions included Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) who was in 11th, whilst rookie Hector Barbera (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) was 14th, and Alessandro Delbianco (Althea MIE Racing Team) secured a career-best 15th. Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) was a shock down the order in 17th.
Following a snowstorm hitting the TT Circuit Assen early in the afternoon during the WorldSBK grid, Race 1 start had been delayed twice before being rescheduled at 11:00 AM on Sunday morning, to guarantee riders’ safety.
Pole position – Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – DUCATI)
“On Friday we struggled a bit because we tried a different setup but I didn’t feel good on the bike, so we decided to go back to our standard setting. I didn’t make a good lap time in the Tissot Superpole, compared to the past rounds, but thanks to the red flag I was able to finish on pole position. What happened this afternoon, I’ve never seen it before in my career! It was snowing, and with these conditions, it was just too dangerous to race. Tomorrow we will have Race 1 and Race 2, and hopefully, the weather will improve for then”.
P2 – Michael Van Der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team)
“I am quite happy about the second position in the Tissot Superpole. I think it is the best qualifying I have ever done with the Yamaha and it was special to do it at my home round, but I am a bit disappointed because I felt that I could improve my lap time, but then we had the red flag. This afternoon I was ready to race, and it was frustrating that in the end, we had to postpone it. It’s freezing, but still, many fans were here to support me. We really wanted to race but since it was snowing it was the safest option to wait and then postpone it. It has been a strange day today”.
P3 – Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team)
“Since the start of the weekend I have been feeling good on the bike, and I want to thank all my team for their help. I am starting to getting comfortable on the bike, and I know Assen very well, and I like this track a lot. My qualifying lap was not that good, but in the end, I was lucky that the session was red flagged. Starting from the front row is really important for the race. Let’s see what we will be able to do tomorrow”.
Ducati Panigale V4 R
M. Van Der Mark
Yamaha YZF R1
BMW S1000 RR
Yamaha YZF R1
BMW S1000 RR
Ducati Panigale V4 R
Yamaha YZF R1
Ducati Panigale V4 R
Yamaha YZF R1
Ducati Panigale V4 R
World Supersport took to the historic TT Circuit Assen for the fourth round of their championship season. It was yet another thrilling session for the class, with riders swapping back and forth throughout the session before Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) took pole position. However, with just under 11 minutes to go, Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) had an engine blow up which led to fluid being dropped between Turn 13 and 15, with a red flag needing to be brought out.
Randy Krummenacher put a solid lap time in before the red flag came out and the weather turned inclement, cementing his position at the top of the time-sheets. Krummenacher takes his second pole position at Assen, with his first WorldSSP pole coming at the Dutch venue back in 2016.
Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) joined his teammate on the front row for his fourth consecutive front row, whilst Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) completed the front row, despite crashing on Mahias’ fluids down at Turn 15.
The second row will comprise of Estonian-ace Hannes Soomer (MPM WILSport Racedays), as the Honda-mounted rider took his best Tissot Superpole qualifying position, whilst also being Estonia’s best starting position in WorldSSP. Fifth position belonged to Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), who also crashed on teammate Mahias’ spillage at Turn 15. Rounding out the second row is Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA), who lies second in the championship.
Row three comprises of Aragon pole-sitter Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing), who was just over a second behind Krummenacher. Lucas Mahias, despite his problems, finished in eighth, whilst fellow Frenchman Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA) was ninth. Completing the top ten was Spanish rider, Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing).
Pole position – Randy Krummenacher
“It was a really strange Superpole, and it was a pity because I couldn’t take full advantage of my bike. I was able to do just one flying lap, but it was enough to take the pole position. I am happy about it and I am really confident for tomorrow. My rivals are also very fast here and we don’t know which conditions we will find tomorrow. I will try to do a good race and just focus on my consistency”.
Yamaha YZF R6
Yamaha YZF R6
R. De Rosa
MV Agusta F3 675
Yamaha YZF R6
Yamaha YZF R6
Yamaha YZF R6
Yamaha YZF R6
G. Van Straalen
MV Agusta F3 675
Yamaha YZF R6
J. Van Sikkelerus
Yamaha YZF R6
Yamaha YZF R6
Yamaha YZF R6
Yamaha YZF R6
A. De Wintere
Yamaha YZF R6
World Supersport 300
Galang Hendra Pratama took the pole position in a flurry of activity in the middle of the session, in the optimum weather conditions as rain came and went through the 25-minute stint. Joining him on the front row, Aragon race winner Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) was second, looking to launch his attack for a second career victory from a good starting position. Completing the front row is Mika Perez (Scuderia Maranga Racing).
Continuing to impress in the 2019 World Supersport 300 class was Hugo De Cancellis (Team Trasimeno), who was fourth. The Frenchman will be looking for another podium from the front of row two, whilst teammate Omar Bonoli vastly improved to fifth position on the grid, as the 17-year-old took his best qualifying position of the year. Completing the front row is the first rider from Group B, home-hero, Scott Deroue (Kawasaki MOTOPORT). He will be looking to put on a good show for his home fans.
Row three features Ukrainian rider Nick Kalinin from Group A (Nutec – RT Motorsports by SKM – Kawasaki), who finished ahead of Jan-Ole Jahnig (KTM Freudenberg Junior Team) in eighth and then Borja Sanchez (Scuderia Maranga Racing) in ninth. Rounding out the top then was reigning champion, Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300).
Due to the severe weather conditions in the afternoon, WorldSSP300 Last Race Chance was cancelled.
Pole Position – Galang Hendra Pratama
“I am really happy! It was difficult to manage the tyres and find the grip but my team did such a great job, and they were able to solve the problem before the Tissot Superpole. Step by step we were able to find a good setup for the bike! Thank all my team and my Indonesian fans, my sponsors and family that always support me. For tomorrow I will keep concentrate and try to do my best.
A freezing cold and windy Assen played host to a close session that saw the top five riders covered by just 0.031s, Tom Sykes taking the BMW to finish the opening day at the TT Circuit Assen on top!
Tom Sykes – P1
“I am looking forward to this weekend especially if it’s going to stay dry, I feel if the rain comes there could be a lot of trouble with the temperatures and the rain tyre. Having said that the whole of the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team are working really well, we have done a lot with the BMW S 1000 RR and got off to a steady start doing a few things in this morning’s FP1 and FP2 sessions. We now feel we have a strong pace in these conditions. Tomorrow we will look to refine our setting further, however we will keep an eye on the conditions during tomorrow’s 9am start… that being said I am looking forward to the races, I enjoy Assen and the layout of the track is fantastic so I hope we can convert this speed into some results.”
Having led the session in FP1, Kawasaki’s were on form at the famed Dutch venue. It was the reigning four-time WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea who consolidated a positive opening day with a second place as Friday concluded. The Ulsterman setting multiple fast times and eventually toppling his teammate. Rea will be hoping to continue his search for his first race win of the season.
Jonathan Rea – P2
“A very positive day to be honest. We have changed the bike set-up a little bit and gone back in a different direction from what we had been in the winter tests and the first few rounds. I have gained a little bit of agility on the bike set-up and I am able to do things a little bit differently. The bike is turning better in the longer corners and I am able to make the difference, so the window is a little bit bigger. With such a big change, step-by-step, I need to adapt a little bit more. Of course it is a learning process and I feel quite good, but here the temperatures are so low that it is important for us to analyse both the SC0 and SC1 option rear tyres for tomorrow. We need to understand exactly where the crossover in performance is, if any. Then we can find our race set-up. I feel quite positive after the work we have done today and we understand where we need to improve for tomorrow.”
Leon Haslam returned to the TT Circuit Assen in The Netherlands with a fine third place. The ‘Pocket Rocket’ will be hoping to return to the podium for the first time since Australia.
Leon Haslam – P3
“I am really happy because I did not expect to be third quickest. Our plan was to do this morning with a hard tyre and this afternoon with a soft tyre and we did over race distance in both sessions. So to just use two tyres over the whole day I am really happy. Always Assen is close, one tenth here, one tenth there, and the race is always a close battle. There are a few areas I want to improve in still but so far so good. The biggest thing is to keep the tyre temperature up. Normally in these conditions the SC0 would never last but the new bigger profile tyre is lasting just unbelievably.”
Markus Reiterberger was one of the revelations on Friday, lapping multiple consistent times and eventually placing fourth overall. Reiterberger looking to improve on a best Superpole result of sixth, achieved in Sepang 2016.
Markus Reiterberger – P4
“First of all I have done many laps around Assen. My first impression of the bike was not the best and we put this down to the rear tyre, despite this feeling we were still able to put ourselves into the top 6 during FP1 so we have to be happy about that. Going into the second session we didn’t expect too much with the results but we continued with some changes to the chassis and the electronics. I again struggled with the rear during the early stages of FP2 so we made a change of tyre to the SC1, this immediately changed the setting of the bike which was good step for me and I could consistently lap 1’35.00/1’36.00 times and finished the day in P4. I am happy with the setting change we made from today’s second outing, I hope we can continue this into tomorrow’s qualifying and race.”
In what was one of the closest sessions in recent WorldSBK memory, home-hero Michael van der Mark completed the session in fifth position, just 0.031s behind session leader Tom Sykes. The Dutchman was looking to put on a good show in front of a loyal home crowd and goes into Saturday full of confidence.
Michael van der Mark – P5
“It’s not ideal to be riding in such cold conditions as we had here today, not just for us but also for the tyres. It means you have to be a bit careful the first few laps but, overall, I’m quite happy with today. This morning I felt good on the bike and, on the last run, I improved my lap time a lot and it was clear what we needed to improve for the second session this afternoon. We made some changes to the bike for FP2, but this didn’t bring the improvement we were expecting, so we reverted back to a set-up closer to the one we ran this morning and I immediately felt better. I was struggling a little on corner exit, as the bike wanted to wheelie out of the turns, so we’ll need to look at that during FP3 tomorrow. The times are very close and I was able to put together some consistent laps, so I’m happy enough with the first day here in Assen.”
It wasn’t an all-conquering opening day for ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati team, who struggled throughout the session. Alvaro Bautista languished for the majority of FP2, in the pits with his crew hard at work, implementing the settings needed to challenge at the front. The championship leader finished the session in sixth, with a flurry of fast laps towards the end of FP2.
Álvaro Bautista – P6
“Today was a bit of an unusual day. The temperatures were very low and we used a slightly different setting from the last races to try and be quick right from the start. Maybe it was because the track was too cold, but I wasn’t able to improve the way I wanted during the first session. In the afternoon session, after a few laps, we decided to go back to the set-up used in the last races. The mechanics were very quick to carry out the modifications required and the feeling with the bike improved immediately. Basically in two practice sessions, we only lapped without any problems for the last ten minutes. These things happen sometimes, but luckily we were able to finish the day with a good feeling. The times are all close together, but I think we’ve found the right direction for the weekend.”
Chaz Davies had a small crash at Turn 5, soon remounting but returning to the pits. The Welshman, who is looking to continue his search for a third podium of the season, finished the session in ninth position, ahead of his teammate for most of the session.
Chaz Davies – P7
“It wasn’t so bad today and the lap times were really close. We are in ninth place but only 0.4s away from the top and I felt like there is more on the table. I had a really small crash, because I’m struggling to do what I want in Turn 5; it’s quite cold and I don’t have full confidence there. As soon as I went on the track this morning, my Panigale V4 R was working pretty good so I’m reasonably happy and at the end of the day we definitely found our base set-up. I have a lot more confidence with the front of the bike, which has probably gone up from 60 to 90%, and I’m much happier than what I was in the early rounds of the season.”
Yamaha’s Alex Lowes suffered another crash in FP2 and finished his first day at Assen in tenth.
Alex Lowes – P10
“The track conditions today were really cold, which isn’t something we were expecting coming into this weekend, but it wasn’t too bad. This afternoon I stayed on the used tyres and did a long run, almost race distance, but then the front tyre wear towards the end was quite severe. I tried to keep going until the end, to give us more information but in hindsight, maybe I should have come in a lap earlier because I lost the front on the bump into turn one and crashed. If I’d have come in for new tyres then I felt like I’d have been quite strong at the end. Now we need to work out why we’re getting excessive tyre wear, so that’s what we’ll be focusing on tomorrow.”
Two Independent team riders once again squeezed into the top ten, with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) in seventh, just 0.140s from the leading time by Sykes. One position behind the Turkish rider, Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) was one of the biggest improvers and finished in eighth, as second Yamaha rider too.
Sandro Cortese – P8
“I’m a little bit more relaxed after FP2, because this morning was a bit of a disaster for me. When I started FP1 it was like I’d forgotten how to ride a bike in the one week since Aragon! For the first time ever, I didn’t have a feeling for the bike but, obviously it was very cold this morning. We made some big changes on the bike to try and improve and we continued with this in the afternoon, but then we made the decision to go back to the base set-up we’ve used over the last three races, with positive results. This is how we need to work, rather than looking at what the other Yamaha riders are doing, as they are so completely different. I’m happy that we remained calm, stayed focused and made some good progression this afternoon. Of course, we are still missing a bit but if we look at the gap this morning, which was almost 2.5 seconds, and then compare it to the 0.2 seconds we’re missing now, I think we can be happy with the job we did. Now we just need to continue in this way.”
It was another difficult day for Melandri, with the GRT Yamaha rider again struggling to find a set-up on his R1 with which he was comfortable and that would allow him to rediscover the form that saw him finish on the podium at the opening round in Australia. Melandri and his crew will analyse the situation further overnight, in a bid to find an improvement ahead of FP3 tomorrow morning.
Marco Melandri – P14
“It was one more difficult day for me here in Assen. I’m still struggling with the same issue I had on the first day with the R1; I am trying to adapt my riding style and move my position on the bike to try and improve things, but it just seems to get worse. It’s difficult because we can’t go the way I’d like to with the set-up and, in the cold conditions we experienced today, the problem is even worse. The biggest issue is that, right now, I have no confidence and that means I can’t push as hard as I need to.”
In what was a phenomenally tight session, the leading 12 riders were covered by just 0.821s, with four Independent riders inside that gap.
Matches Neil Hodgson’s nine on a roll winning streak
Randy Krummenacher claims Supersport win – Gonzalez heads WSSP300
Tom Edwards 19th – Tom Bramich 24th in WSSP300
Alvaro has further cemented his place in the history books over the weekend, continuing his unbeaten run at Aragon with two more race wins and the Tissot Superpole Sprint victory for a clean sweep of the weekend.
This makes it nine wins in a row for the 34-year-old from Talavera de la Reina, matching the record of 2003 WorldSBK champion Neil Hodgson in opening race wins, as well as claiming Ducati’s 350th win in World Superbikes, while his eighth race win earlier in the day matched Troy Bayliss’s record for Ducati from 2006.
Álvaro Bautista – P1
“It has been an extraordinary weekend for me. Winning three races here in Spain in front of my family, my friends and the Spanish fans was really great. In all three, I was able to make my own strategy, that is get a fast start and maintain my own pace. For sure the conditions in the three races were different, especially today in the Superpole Race which took place in the morning when it was very cold. Luckily it got a bit warmer for Race 2, but you could really feel the wind. Despite this, I was able to stay focussed, understand the situation on the track and push hard all the way. In the end we have won nine races out of nine and I’m so happy about that. The team has done an incredible job, we are on the right path and I’d like to thank Aruba, all Ducati and my team because the congratulations should also go to them.”
Tissot Superpole Race
The Tissot Superpole Race for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship provided exciting action from lights-out to the chequered flag. Off the line Bautista was yet again the rider with the best start, leading into turn one. However, there was mayhem behind as Michael Ruben Rinaldi and Michael van der Mark collided and crashed, ending the Dutchman’s 22-race streak of point-scoring positions. He finished 15th in the end, whilst Rinaldi went to the medical centre.
Bautista soon streaked away, leaving the battle for second to rage on. Sandro Cortese was running second until Alex Lowes made his way ahead at turn 12. Chaz Davies tried a similar move a lap later at turn 16 but couldn’t make the apex, running wide and dropping down to fifth – allowing rival Jonathan Rea to make up a position.
Tom Sykes and Eugene Laverty battled hard. Ahead of them, Sandro Cortese was starting to drop back as Lowes, Rea and Davies made their respective moves on the German Rookie.
With five laps to go, there was another retirement as Markus Reiterberger’s miserable weekend continued, this time with mechanical gremlins. His teammate Tom Sykes was enjoying a much better race, having dropped down to seventh after the opening lap, he was now fifth and pushing hard for a second consecutive top five of the year.
The battle for second was starting to take place though, as Lowes slipstreamed his way passed Rea down the back straight, achieving the move at turn 16 with just five laps left to go. Two laps later, Rea almost hit the rear end of the Yamaha-man at turn one, allowing Chaz Davies to now get in on the action.
A lap later, it was a shoot-out and Rea tried to get ahead of Lowes at turn one, but the Englishman fought back. At turn four, Rea finally fired his way through and despite Lowes looking to fight back, Rea held on. The final lap soon beckoned but no moves were made, despite Lowes’ best efforts.
However, it was the dominant Alvaro Bautista who took yet another win in his WorldSBK career, holding off Rea and Lowes. Chaz Davies was a solid fourth, whilst Tom Sykes and Eugene Laverty completed the top six; the front two rows for the last race of the weekend.
Row three saw Leon Haslam in seventh, after a fairly quiet weekend which has seen him absent from the front. Joining him would be Jordi Torres and Sandro Cortese in eighth and ninth respectively.
World Superbike Tissot Superpole Race Top 10 – Aragon
A. BAUTISTA ESP
J. REA GBR +5.791
A. LOWES GBR +5.906
C. DAVIES GBR +6.052
T. SYKES GBR +9.217
E. LAVERTY IRL +9.921
L. HASLAM GBR +10.221
J. TORRES ESP +11.961
S. CORTESE GER +13.712
T. RAZGATLIOGLU TUR +14.218
Superbikes Race 2
Alvaro Bautista took his ninth consecutive race win in the final Aragon battle to equal 2003 WorldSBK champion Neil Hodgson in winning the opening nine races of the season, as well as giving Ducati their 350th WorldSBK win.
Bautista took the lead from pole position, seeing-off Jonathan Rea into turn one. For the first time this weekend, every rider made it through the opening corners without drama. Chaz Davies was an early improver and up to third place, while Alex Lowes was a strong fourth despite dropping back. Tom Sykes wasn’t the fastest starter and dropped back, allowing a rapid-starting Jordi Torres and Eugene Laverty to get in close proximity.
Davies made his move on lap two, to pass Rea and push the reigning four-time champion back into the jaws of the chasing pack. An action-packed second lap saw passes galore, with Tom Sykes making an error at turn 12 to allow Leon Haslam and Jordi Torres through – Torres now sixth from eighth on the grid, one of the strongest showings in WorldSBK by the Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki.
Alex Lowes was starting his comeback through the order, up to third position and ahead of Rea, who was starting to look vulnerable. Rea was now in fourth and his teammate, Leon Haslam and Eugene Laverty, were closing in.
On lap eight, Davies began to pull away and put some distance between himself and Lowes. Rea ran wide and took teammate Haslam with him; the Kawasaki riders were not looking like they were going to be able to mount a podium challenge. Lowes challenged Davies but was not able to make a pass. Further down the order, Toprak Razgatlioglu retired.
With Laverty dropping back from the battle for second and not able to initiate a challenge for the podium, Rea was starting his own resurgence, passing Lowes and pursuing Davies. Two laps later, and Haslam made his way past Lowes at turn one, pursuing his teammate and Davies in second.
Whilst Rea looked set for a guaranteed podium, teammate Haslam had other ideas and got ahead of the Ulsterman, taking over as the leader in the Kawasaki challenge. A lap later, and Rea repaid the compliment in identical fashion.
The penultimate lap beckoned, and it was Rea and Davies who renewed their rivalry. Rea put his trademark passing move on Davies at turn 4, slicing under the Welshman, only for the 2011 WorldSSP champion to fight back at turn 5. Leon Haslam, after initially being dropped by half-a-second, was now right back in the battle for the podium.
On the final lap, a mistake by Davies at turn one allowed Rea to come straight through and put in the lap of his life to put distance into Davies. Haslam wasn’t able to capitalise on the mistake by Davies and whilst Davies was coming back towards Rea into the final corner, there was nothing he could do to get ahead.
Bautista took the win, ahead of Rea by another huge margin; the ninth time that those two have finished in that order in 2019.
Davies completed the podium for the second time at the Aragon Round, whilst Haslam and Lowes completed the top five. Laverty took sixth, ahead of Jordi Torres, Michael van der Mark, Michael Ruben Rinaldi and Sandro Cortese.
Marco Melandri was a dejected 11th, with Sykes right behind, having faded mid-race. Leon Camier and teammate Kiyonari were 13th and 14th respectively, whilst Markus Reiterberger finally finished at MotorLand Aragon, with 15th.
Alvaro Bautista – P1
“It has been a very special weekend for me, winning the three races in front of my fans! I enjoyed a lot the weekend. It was special for me here in Spain. Now we go to Assen, a race track which is different from this and where the weather changes so fast. It will be also my first time with the new bike, but we go there very confident and I can’t wait to be on the bike again.”
Jonathan Rea – P2
“It was a tougher Sunday than I expected and the strategy was different. Especially in the sprint race, I lost a lot of rear traction at the end. We think it was a consequence of being so fast in the beginning. During the 18-lap race I decided to be calmer in the beginning but when Alex Lowes came through he had a good pace with Chaz Davies. I started to panic a little bit that maybe these guys had an extra gear. And then Leon came past, so I had to step up and really use the tyre that I was conserving. My body language was a lot different at the end of the race because I really put my head down and maximised where we were strong. It looks like our bike is really creating a lot of traction in the long corners, which is positive. Our corner entry is not so bad. It was nice to see Leon in the front as well because our data becomes more relevant to compare and we can try to move the bike set-up forward together.”
Chaz Davies – P3
“It was a strong weekend for me, but I’m a bit disappointed about losing second place in Race 2. At the start of the last lap, I went in deep at Turn 1 and left the door open for Johnny, after which there wasn’t much chance of getting it back. At any rate, I was happy to back up yesterday’s result with another third position. It wasn’t easy in the wind, but we worked well this weekend to make big progress and I hope to build on that next weekend at Assen.”
Stefano Cecconi – Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Team Principal
“It was another perfect weekend for Álvaro, which makes us really happy, but we are just as satisfied by the fact that Chaz got back on the podium and that he is getting more and more accustomed to the new Panigale V4 R. We hope that he will continue this string of positive results in the next few races.”
Leon Haslam – P4
“Starting from the fourth row was not ideal in the first two races so we used the sprint race to get back into it. The team has done mega-well from really struggling on Saturday morning to being able to battle for second place for Johnny. What a turnaround. I am really happy about what we have done here and I feel quite positive. In the sprint race I did not get the best of starts but it got me a better grid position for the final race. We made some steps in being able to pass people in the last race as well.”
Alex Lowes – P5
“After the podium in the sprint race this morning I was a little bit disappointed with fifth in Race 2, as I was expecting to be able to fight a little bit harder and longer with Jonathan and Chaz. It was nice to be battling with Leon again, after a couple of tough races for him, and we were nice and close a few times, especially into turn one! It was good fun, but I just didn’t have enough to stay in the battle until the end. The last two rounds have been strong ones for us and I’ve really enjoyed riding the R1, but now we just need to find small improvements so that we can fight it out over the last few laps of the race. Now I can’t wait to get to Assen, a track I and the Yamaha enjoy.”
Tom Sykes – P12
“Honestly, it has been a very positive weekend for the entire BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. I feel that we have again made some steps forward. I am very impressed and also there have been a lot of people inside the racing paddock who have commented on the potential of the BMW S 1000 RR, so I think we are heading in the right direction and are definitely making good progress. Everything was good, we were top five in most of the sessions and with the exception of my mistake in Superpole almost could have had pole. In the final race we did not have the correct rear traction, which is a shame because the bike did not change and on the same tyre I was so fast during the race weekend, so with my honest opinion and with my experience I certainly feel we perhaps did not have a tyre that was to its full potential. It was a bit of a disappointment on a great weekend but this is part of racing. Sometimes these things happen and we will be making up for this moving forward.”
World Superbike Race 2 Top 10 – Aragon
A. BAUTISTA ESP
J. REA GBR +6.867
C. DAVIES GBR +7.127
L. HASLAM GBR +7.581
A. LOWES GBR +11.549
E. LAVERTY IRL +16.797
J. TORRES ESP +17.825
M. VAN DER MARK NED +18.788
M. RINALDI ITA +19.329
S. CORTESE GER +20.351
World Superbike standings following Aragon
Alvaro Bautista 186 points
Jonathan Rea 147
Alex Lowes 100
Michael Van Der Mark 79
Leon Haslam 74
Marco Melandri 63
Chaz Davies 56
Sandro Cortese 56
Tom Sykes 39
Jordi Torres 35
Michael Ruben Rinaldi 35
Toprak Razgatlioglu 32
Eugene Laverty 27
Leon Camier 17
Markus Reiterberger 15
Leandro Mercado 11
Ryuichi Kiyonari 9
Alessandro Delbianco 3
The FIM Supersport World Championship saw an intriguing race in the first part of the 16-lap encounter, before a traditional fairing-bashing battle took place in the final part of the race. Eventually, it was Randy Krummenacher who took the win to extend his championship lead at the top of the WorldSSP title race!
Starting well from pole position, 22-year-old Austrian Thomas Gradinger couldn’t fend off a courageous Federico Caricasulo into Turn 1, as the Italian took the lead. For Caricasulo’s teammate, Randy Krummenacher, it was another poor start, which saw Jules Cluzel take advantage. One rider who achieved a good start was Raffaele De Rosa, who, from sixth on the grid, was soon into fifth, ahead of Lucas Mahias and his Japanese teammate, Hikari Okubo.
Caricasulo and Gradinger pulled away, with a 1.7 second gap after just two laps of the MotorLand Aragon circuit. The battle for third saw Randy Krummenacher take advantage of Jules Cluzel at Turn 1 on lap three, and a lap later, it was De Rosa’s turn to pick off the fading Frenchman.
However, with the gaps forming, it was the riders in third and fourth who soon started lapping the faster times, and soon the 1.7s gap soon evaporated, with two back-to-back fastest laps coming from De Rosa on laps six and seven.
Despite Cluzel languishing in an isolated fifth position, the battle raged behind him, with Mahias, Okubo and Corentin Perolari and Europe Supersport Cup rider, Kyle Smith. Smith was able to get as high as sixth before dropping back, with Perolari coming through towards the end.
The battle at the front was now between four bikes and also, with a different race leader. Thomas Gradinger came through and passed Caricasulo at Turn 4, to become the first Austrian rider to lead a WorldSSP race. Austria’s dream of a WorldSSP race winner started to look like it was finally going to come to reality.
With four laps remaining, it was a wild WorldSSP race which saw Gradinger make a mistake at the final corner, dropping from first to fourth. Four riders abreast down the main straight, Caricasulo and De Rosa took over, whilst Krummenacher watched on holding his breath in third. The last lap was set to be a thriller, as De Rosa took the lead when Krummenacher made a mistake at Turn 12. Were we about to see the first non-Yamaha win for the first time in almost a year-and-a-half?
The last lap came around quickly and soon, the gloves were off! Krummenacher passed his teammate at Turn 1 and soon went in pursuit of race leader De Rosa. Gradinger was still in the battle in fourth, but unable to make any passes on the final lap, achieving his joint-best result.
Down the back straight and Krummenacher slipstreamed his way through, before slamming his Yamaha down the inside of De Rosa’s MV Agusta. Through the final corner and over the rise to the finish line, Krummenacher took a second win of the season, whilst De Rosa took his first podium of the year, with fellow countryman Federico Caricasulo in third. Gradinger was fourth.
Behind the leading quartet, Jules Cluzel’s damage limitation efforts saw him conclude in fifth position, with teammate Corentin Perolari, who took his best finish of the season. Lucas Mahias finally got the better of his teammate Hikari Okubo for seventh place, whilst Kyle Smith was top ESS rider in ninth. Completing the top ten was Isaac Viñales, who recovered to tenth after running wide in the early stages.
Completing the points was Peter Sebestyen, who was top Honda in the race after Hannes Soomer crashed on the final lap. Teammate Jules Danilo was just 0.116s behind him, whilst Federico Fuligni was a further 0.314s back. 14th and 15th went to Loris Cresson and Maria Herrera respectively.
Krummenacher gave Yamaha their 81st WorldSSP win, whilst giving Switzerland their first win on European soil, as well as achieving the nation’s 16th podium – putting them one behind the United States overall, 22 years after the first Swiss rider achieved a podium, with Yves Briguet at Monza, 1997.
“It was a really tough race. After the warm-up, I felt like I could have the chance to go away in the race, but the final laps were not that easy for me. When I finally got to the front, I tried hard to go away, but I made a little mistake and went wide. Fortunately, the final lap came out perfectly. I came out of the slipstream, brake a little bit later and I won! Thanks to my team and my family that always support me”.
World Supersport Race Results – Aragon
R. KRUMMENACHER SUI
R. DE ROSA ITA +0.094
F. CARICASULO ITA +0.158
T. GRADINGER AUT +0.732
J. CLUZEL FRA +3.312
C. PEROLARI FRA +12.626
L. MAHIAS FRA +12.890
H. OKUBO JPN +12.996
K. SMITH GBR +14.331
I. VINALES ESP +17.653
World Supersport Standings following Aragon
Randy Krummenacher 70 points
Jules Cluzel 56
Federico Caricasulo 48
Raffaele De Rosa 31
Hikari Okubo 28
Thomas Gradinger 24
Corentin Perolari 24
Hector Barbera 22
Lucas Mahias 21
Isaac Vinales 19
World Supersport 300
It was a crazy return to action for the WorldSSP300 championship at the Motocard Aragon Round in 2019, with a flurry of action from the start to the end, making for an incredibly exciting season in prospect. The winner of the first race of the season was 16-years-old Manuel Gonzalez, whilst defending champion Ana Carrasco crashed out at Turn 13, making her title defence even harder work for the remainder of the season.
From lights out, it was a great start from Indonesian rider, Galang Hendra Pratama took the lead and to the amazement, led the field safely through the opening corners, with no casualties in a packed grid. Gonzalez took the lead early on but there was no escaping, as he oscillated back-and-forth, as riders passed each other to try and establish a constant running order.
As the race went on, Victor Steeman, Hugo De Cancellis and Maximilian Kappler all battled it out, whilst Andy Verdoia and Jan-Ole Jahnig joined the leading group.
It was a disaster in the middle of the race for the reigning champion, Ana Carrasco, as she crashed out after tangling with Koen Meuffels, who in-turn was having a tricky race having won at the track last season. Other falls consisted of sole Turkish rider Bahattin Sofuoglu crashing at Turn 2, as well as Indonesian Hendra Pratama, who crashed after contact with Verdoia at Turn 10; the Marc Marquez corner.
As the race reached the closing stages, all kinds of different riders entered the battle, with Omar Bonoli, Scott Deroue and Nick Kalinin all got in on the action. All three of them had raced through the field from 14th, 15th and 16th, all looking to take the opening win of the season from the lowest grid positions in WorldSSP300 history (that record held by Manuel Bastianelli of Prodina IRCOS Kawasaki, from 13th on the grid at Misano in 2018.
Into the last lap and it looked like we would get a victory from 14th, as Omar Bonoli took over at the front; the 17-year-old looking like he had the pace, before De Cancellis came passed at Turn 7 and immediately looked to break away. However, a fantastic move at Turn 9 by Manuel Gonzalez soon saw a last lap battle.
Into the final corner and Gonzalez made a move to the lead and pushed De Cancellis wide, holding on to the lead to take his first ever win as the second-youngest rider in the class! Completing the podium was Scott Deroue, starting his championship challenge off in fine style.
Behind them, Jahnig, Verdoia and Steeman, whilst completing the top ten was Bonoli, Bruno Ieraci who in-turn had come from the back of the grid after a penalty, 2018 Aragon winner Koen Meuffels and Maximilian Kappler.
Outside of the top ten were Robert Schotman, Mateo Perdeneau, Filippo Rovelli, Nick Kalinin and 2018 runner-up, Mika Perez. 2017 champion, Marc Garcia (DS Junior Team) could only manage 25th position on his return to the championship.
Manuel Gonzalez – P1
“I don’t have words to describe how happy I am. I really enjoyed riding today. The race was not easy, and especially the final lap was extremely difficult. There were many riders taking advantage of the slipstream on the straight, and it made it hard to keep the position. In the last corner, I was able to overtake De Cancellis and take victory. Thanks to my team for all the work they have done during this weekend”.
Scott Deroue – P3
“Yes it was incredible to come through for a podium. This weekend was quite hard and in qualifying I was not really good. I was not in the best place on the grid so I knew we had to something. I was just pushing, pushing – like unbelievably hard. I think this is one of my best races ever. I already won some races in this class but I think this race was the best ever.”
Ana Carrasco – DNF
“It is a pity to not score. We had some issues in the practice sessions and I started the race from the fourth row. In the race itself I felt myself to be very fast, and comfortable, so much so that we actually set a new lap record. Some bikes had better acceleration but in braking and top speed I was super strong. In the crash two guys in front of me touched and I had to close the throttle – then someone hit me from the back. It is a shame because I am sure I could have finished on top. I just want to say thanks to all people that came to see me here at Motorland, to my team and Kawasaki. I am on the bike again in only four days, at Assen – I can’t wait!”
Top performing Australian was Tom Edwards (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) in 19th, while Tom Bramich (Carl Cox-RT Motorsports by SKM-Kawasaki) claimed 24th. Jack Hyde didn’t make the cut into the main race, finishing ninth in the Last Chance Race.
The first stop back in Europe for WorldSBK season 2019 sees the Spanish circuit of Aragon welcoming riders this weekend.
MotorLand Aragón has historically aggressive asphalt, especially harsh to rear tyres, in fact, the surface together with temperatures that are not too high in April, can cause many tyre problems. In addition, the sand that is sometimes carried by the wind and deposited on the asphalt can affect grip and drifts towards the centre of the curve.
The obvious favourite is a seemingly unstoppable Alvaro Bautista has recorded six wins out of six races in this beginning of the season, matching the rocket starts of Troy Bayliss in 2002 and Neil Hodgson in 2003: the latter went on to win the first nine races that year.
In Aragon Bautista will be already aiming for the second all-time string of wins, 9, recorded by Colin Edwards from Laguna Seca/2, 2002 to Imola/2, 2002, and repeated by Neil Hodgson in the aforementioned start of the 2003 season. The all-time record sequence was set by Jonathan Rea in the last 11 races of 2018.
However, funnily enough Spaniards do not have a great track record at Aragon. Carlos Checa is the only Spanish rider who achieved a pole, win or fastest lap in Aragon, he also recorded the fastest race lap in the very first race held here in 2011.
The last 12 wins in Aragon were all scored by British riders: since the first race in 2014 the winners have been Chaz Davies (7 times); Jonathan Rea (3); Tom Sykes (2). The Brits had taken over from Italy, which won the first four races at Aragon with Melandri (2) and Max Biaggi (2).
Ducati also has the first chance to reach the milestone of 350 WorldSBK wins during the Aragon race weekend.
It feels odd to be mentioning history-making opportunities and not be referring to one of Jonathan Rea’s latest exploits with the Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK, but that has been the nature so far of the 2019 season.
“It’s been a nice break since Buriram and Motorland is a good place to get back to business. I enjoy the track layout and we made some good progress last year during winter testing. We will continue to work on making more progress during Friday’s practice sessions. The layout is nice and flowing with lots of challenges during the lap, so finding a good set up for the race is crucial. It’s an important race for my team too, as their headquarters are just a few hours away in Granollers, near Barcelona. I expect lots of support and I’m excited to give it my all.”
But as they say, opportunity knocks at every man’s door, and the Northern Irishman has built much of his success on remaining cold and calculating through the toughest of times. MotorLand Aragon is not one of the four-time champion’s favourite tracks – in fact it’s one of just two on the 2019 calendar where he hasn’t achieved a double – but his focus will stay intact; Rea will be ready to pounce should the chance arise, as will team-mate Leon Haslam, who took pole position last time out in Aragon in 2015.
“Aragon is a circuit I last raced at in 2015 but I was on pole. I managed to score a podium there, so those are not bad memories. It has not been one of my favourite circuits but the lap times have been pretty competitive. My very first test with KRT was at Aragon last year, even though we lost some track time due to the weather. But the lap times still came pretty good. I am predicting that it is going to be a tough weekend this time. Jonathan’s record around there is really competitive. Chaz Davies goes pretty well there and Alvaro Bautista is going to be the man to beat, especially with the couple of big straights that there are at this circuit. I think it is going to be a big fight to get on that podium but obviously that is always my aim. My back is better, definitely ten times better, than it was in Thailand.”
Finding opportunity in adversity is what separates the greats from the rest, and few have suffered more setbacks in recent months than Chaz Davies on the Ducati with Aruba.it Racing. Come Race 1 it will have been nearly a year since the Welshman’s last race win, which happened precisely at the Alcañiz circuit.
Davies has built up a treasure trove of performances in Aragon, with seven hard-fought race wins and an additional three podiums. It may arrive a bit early for the Brit in his personal adaptation to the V4 R, but expect him to make several steps forward on his own road to redemption.
There was a certain sense of dèja-vu in Thailand as Yamaha’s Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark crossed the line in Race 2 in third and fourth, respectively, for the third time in a row; the same applies to independent standings runaways Marco Melandri and Sandro Cortese in sixth and seventh.
All four Yamaha riders have performed impeccably since Round One – in particular the Englishman, who has brought his superb pre-season form into the new season – but how much margin for growth is there? The first European showdown of the year could be an ideal moment to make that final step towards the top of the rostrum.
“I’m Looking forward to getting back to Europe and heading to Aragon this weekend. Normally when we arrive back to start the European phase of the championship it settles down a bit, but this year we have back-to-back races in Aragon and Assen, so it’s going to be a busy start. Aragon is a track that the majority of the riders enjoy; it’s a long lap, with quite a few changes in elevation and it’s quite technical, which means a lot of work with the guys on Friday to get the bike working really well. With the WorldSSP300 guys racing for the first time in Aragon the schedule is different compared to the two flyaway races, with less time between sessions, so we need to see how that works out. Thailand was a good weekend for us, with a podium finish in all three races, and I’m looking forward to carrying that momentum into the first European race weekend in Spain.”
Another manufacturer looking for the final piece to the puzzle is BMW, although Tom Sykes and Markus Reiterberger with the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team should find it in the form of an engine upgrade scheduled for later in the season. In the meantime, both men can look to the past to find inspiration: the former World Champion secured a dominant double here in 2014, while his partner emerged victorious last season from Spain on the road to the 2018 STK1000 title.
Perseverance will be key for the BMW riders and much of the same can be said for the Moriwaki Althea Honda Team. Still recovering from a blameless crash in Thailand, Leon Camier will simply aiming to be on the grid in Spain. If the 32-year-old gets the go-ahead to race, expect him to keep on pushing the Fireblade to its limits, as the HRC-backed outfit continues seeking answers to find its groove in 2019.
WorldSBK Championship Points Standings
Van Der Mark Michael
Rinaldi Michael Ruben
After two edge-of-your-seat races to kick off the year, MotorLand Aragon is ready to host the third race of the FIM Supersport World Championship. If the last few years are anything to go by, the Motocard Aragon Round could play a decisive role in the fate of this year’s championship race. The last four winners of the Spanish race have gone on to clinch the title later in the season – and in unfavourable news for the co-championship leaders, none of them entered Aragon at the top of the standings.
Two men have been the outstanding stars of the early stages of the World Supersport season. Randy Krummenacher proved to be utterly dominant in the first round at Phillip Island, following that up with a conquering comeback to second position at Buriram. But Krummenacher has always finished the second round at the top of the standings – can he keep up the pace at the third time of asking, after eventually falling back in both 2016 and 2018?
Jules Cluzel meanwhile has enjoyed his best start to a WorldSSP season, sitting on 45 points alongside Krummenacher. The Frenchman was unshakeable in Thailand, fending off countless attacks from the riders preceding him, and seems determined to take the crown this year after last year’s dramatic finale. But MotorLand Aragon is a bit of a bogey circuit for the Frenchman, with three DNFs and a solitary podium in six races. Could Cluzel’s luck change for the better in 2019?
The men following them in the standings will be hopeful of extending the WorldSSP Spanish streak, starting with the man sat third in the standings. After two consecutive third-place finishes, Federico Caricasulo finds himself 13 points adrift, nonetheless also consolidating his best start to a WorldSSP season. The young Italian finished runner-up in Spain in 2018 and is the only rider to have led in both races this year. Caricasulo will certainly be in contention in every session.
The home fans will also have two strong contenders to rally on. Héctor Barberà and Isaac Viñales have both finished a race in fourth position in 2019 and are guaranteed to fight for the rostrum positions at a track which both men know to perfection, albeit not on World Supersport machinery.
The switch over to Kawasaki machinery may not have worked out yet for 2017 world champion Lucas Mahias, but the Frenchman will remain spirited and combative, seeking inspiration from his 2017 Aragonese win. Teammate Hikari Okubo also with the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing Team meanwhile will continue pushing the limits of his ZX-6R, after two strong performances in Australia and Thailand.
Raffaele De Rosa and MV Agusta Reparto Corse are seeking a first podium at the Spanish track, coming off a strong top-five performance in Thailand, while both CIA Landlord Insurance Honda representatives push to close the gap with their rival machinery.
The FIM European Supersport Cup riders will also make their first appearance on the calendar, with a former race winner in Kyle Smith joined by two French newcomers: Xavier Navand and Gaetan Matern.
The third round of the World Supersport season gets underway on Friday 5th with free practice, followed by the Superpole on Saturday.
World Supersport Championship Points Standings
Raffaele De Rosa
Jaimie Van Sikkelerus
Glenn Van Straalen
World Supersport 300
Since 2017, the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship has been a very welcome addition to the WorldSBK paddock, with 10 race winners and a further nine podium finishers in just two seasons of racing. This year over 50 men and women from 16 different countries and five continents will challenge for the WorldSSP300 crown.
Reigning champion Ana Carrasco is looking to kick off her title defense in fine style at her home circuit – the Spaniard looking to make more history and become the first rider ever to win back-to-back WorldSSP300 titles, as well as looking to become the first female solo rider to do so. Carrasco has yet to achieve a podium placing at MotorLand Aragon, so whatever the result after the opening race, the championship looks set to come alive.
Tough opposition is led in the form of Marc Garcia, who returns to the 2019 line-up, looking to take back his crown he earned in 2017. Garcia failed to finish in Aragon in 2017 so will be looking to start his season strongly.
Previous race winners at MotorLand Aragon, Scott Deroue in 2017 and Koen Meuffels in 2018, will also be part of the battle again in Spain, with both showing great potential towards the close of 2018. Meuffels is hoping to give KTM a win in the class again, whilst Deroue will hope to head to the Netherlands a week later in fine form.
2018 championship runner-up Mika Perez will be hoping to improve his championship position this year and kick-start his title-tilt from MotorLand Aragon, where he has finished third for the past two seasons. South African rider Dorren Loureiro had a strong end to 2018 and has been eighth in the past two seasons at MotorLand Aragon, making him a protagonist at the sharp end.
Popular Indonesian rider Galang Hendra Pratama is leading the Yamaha charge and looking to secure a third class-victory in as many seasons. MotorLand Aragon will be a test for the 20-year-old, as he has never scored points at the venue before.
Other notable names include Borja Sanchez, who is without a win in his WorldSSP300 career but has gathered three podiums. Manuel Gonzalez also comes into the season as one of the potential front-runners, having ended his 2018 campaign with three third-places.
Riders will be split into two groups from Friday for Free Practice and Qualifying the following day, with the first-ever Last Chance Race taking place on Saturday afternoon.
Round one dominator, Alvaro Bautista steadily improved the Ducati Panigale V4 R settings before consolidating his position as the man to beat with a 1m32.971s lap to top Friday ahead of Jonathan Rea.
Álvaro Bautista – P1
“For sure it’s only Friday, but I’m quite happy because the most important thing was to confirm our potential on a track that is different from Australia. This morning I started to understand the track and the reference markers, which are a little bit different from the MotoGP bike, so I needed some laps to adapt my riding style. Then I just worked on the bike settings without making any big changes, just some adjustments for the set-up on this track. In the afternoon we tried a different type of rear tyre to see what the new compound was like. There were positives and negatives, so we still have to decide for the race tomorrow. The feeling with the Panigale V4 R is good and I’m satisfied with the result of this first day.”
Seven-time Buriram race-winner Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) has an impeccable record in Buriram and will look to retain that mantle come racing on Saturday and Sunday.
“We were building into it this morning and we got off to a good start. Step-by-step we improved the bike and were getting into a rhythm in that second free practice session, where we started to make some steps with set-up. I wanted to do a consistent long run but we had to confirm which tyre we will use for tomorrow, at the front and the rear. In some areas of this track I also want to improve my braking. We found some positives in all that so – putting it together – I felt pretty good out there. We can look at the finer details tonight but already we are on the way.”
Teammate Leon Haslam was one of the biggest improvers in the session, taking just under a second off of his morning time to finish seventh.
“I thought I had a good handle on the track after racing here four years ago but it has taken me a little bit of time to get my head around the layout again. We stuck to our strategy and just used one tyre in each session, feeling a good rhythm, but we just need to find a little bit more pace. There is a lot of different tarmac from when I last rode here in 2015, so I am working out where those new bumps are, where it is grippy and where it is not. I am still finding braking points, which is just taking a bit of time. We are chipping away every lap, feeling better and better. It is hot out there but it is the same for everyone.”
Rookie Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) took over as leading Yamaha rider, with a stunning charge to third positionin what is his first visit to Thailand.
Veteran teammate Marco Melandri was firmly inside the top six.
Leading the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team charge is Alex Lowes, fourth on the combined timesheets.
Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) finished in eighth position and as second Ducati rider. The Irishman, who has never managed a race finish better than ninth in Thailand, will hope to translate his pace from today into Saturday’s Tissot Superpole Session.
Britain’s Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) placed ninth on combined times and at one point of the session, had the track to himself, enabling him to put in some fast times and work on race pace.
“I feel we had a good second session after having spent some time sorting out a few little things with the bike setup this morning. In the afternoon I feel we made some progress, I was feeling much better on my bike and was able to put some good laps together at the end of the session. There a few key areas where we are still losing but we know what these areas are and will keep working to try and improve them. All in all, I think we are not doing a bad job at the moment, but it will be a big fight for sure. Weather conditions are incredible, it’s so hot! The end of the race will be tough for everyone!”
Teammate Ryuichi Kiyonari improved his time but dropped places. The Japanese star was only 16th at the end of Friday’s track action.
Making it five manufacturers inside the top ten, Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was tenth as he continues to develop the new S1000RR. The 2013 WorldSBK champion completed an important 34 laps throughout the day, whilst German teammate Markus Reiterberger finished in 12th position, just 1.3s from Bautista.
Shaun Muir – BMW Team Principal
“FP1 was really good for us today. Tom and Markus both found a good direction, so everything went positive. We had three exits for each rider and all took steps forward so that was promising. In FP2 we had more test items. While we were pretty happy after FP1 we did not make quite the progress we had hoped for in FP2. We went in a different direction with Tom which unfortunately was the wrong way so had to come back, FP3 tomorrow we will hopefully go in a better direction. Markus had some gremlins that cost a bit of time but overall we can’t be too disappointed. We did not use any additional tyres in FP2 so the times that we put in were pretty much on 15 to 20 lap tyres, so overall I am quite happy with that. Regarding our expectations for Superpole, I think the group from third down to tenth is quite tight and is achievable, so to have a top six for Tom and a top nine for Markus would be a realistic target.”