Argentina WorldSBK: Bautista wins first race amid rider strike

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista took victory in the farcical opening WorldSBK race at San Juan where only 12 riders took to the grid on safety grounds.

The little Spaniard duked it out with five-time champion Jonathan Rea for half the race before the Kawasaki man appeared to decide discretion was the better part of valour and let Bautista go, opting to defend against third-placed Toprak Razgatlioglu.

Minutes before the race was due to start, riders were in a meeting with WorldSBK chiefs making the case the track was too slippery to use in the high temperatures.

After most of the grid threatened not to ride, Eugene Laverty, Leon Camier, Marco Melandri, Chaz Davies, Sandro Cortese and Ryuichi Kiyonari stuck to their guns and didn’t take their positions. Leon Haslam and Rea were put under intense pressure from their team to take part while Loris Baz suffered an injured wrist during a Superpole crash.

Four riders were in the early leading group, with Bautista harried by Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team), Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) and Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team). They would finish in that order.

Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team) tussled with Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) in the final laps, but it was Lowes who would finish fifth.

Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was seventh, privateer Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) eighth, Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) ninth and Alessandro Delbianco (Althea MIE Racing Team Honda) tenth.

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