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.