Kawasaki’s Alex Lowes won an epic nine-bike scrap in the second race at Phillip Island and, for the first time in his life, leads the WorldSBK championship.
Lowes held off a challenge from team-mate and reigning champion Jonathan Rea on the final lap to take his second-ever win with BSB king Scott Redding bagging his third podium of the weekend on the Aruba Ducati.
Rea had started the race from pole position but lost out to Lowes at Turn 1, with new Kawasaki rider sweeping around the outside, attempting to make gains at the start. Michael van der Mark (Yamaha) also tried around the outside of the Southern Loop to gain positions before Rea re-passed van der Mark soon after.
Five-time Champion Rea was controlling the pace at the front of the race in order to preserve tyre life around the demanding Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. There was a lead battle of more than ten riders in the first half of the race, and it looked as if Rea’s strategy was going to pay off but he was unable to stop Lowes overtaking him with two laps to go.
Lowes got into Rea’s slipstream down the start and finish straight before making a move on the inside at Doohan. The pair were fighting hard for the next two laps with Rea looking to pass his teammate at the final corner – a move he successfully pulled off to win the Tissot Superpole Race. Lowes, however, was able to defend hard enough through the final corner. It looked like Rea was attempting to go around the outside of Lowes but was unable to make the move stick.
Redding was less than a second behind the top three as he claimed his third podium of the weekend. It means former MotoGP rider matches Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC) in securing three podiums in his debut weekend for the Ducati outfit, a feat Bautista achieved at Phillip Island in 2019. Chaz Davies finished in fifth place from 15th on the grid after a miraculous comeback. Bautista ended the race in sixth having stormed through from 14th on the grid, proving the potential of the brand new Honda.
Chilean rider Maximilian Scheib (ORELAC Racing VerdNatura) continued his impressive debut weekend with a seventh place finish. He earlier became the first Chilean rider to finish in the top ten of a WorldSBK race and looked impressive during race two as he kept pace with the leading group. He finished less than five seconds off race winner Lowes, proving himself to be a revelation in Australia.
French rider Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) had an eventful race; eighth place not telling the full story. He showed quick pace at the start of the race and was fighting in the leading group, even taking the lead at Turn 4 on Lap 9 as he overtook Rea. His top-speed disadvantage showed on the start and finish straight although he was re-passed by Rea shortly after.
A late-race incident with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Yamaha) meant Baz fell down the order and finished just ahead of Sandro Cortese (OUTDO Kawasaki TPR) in ninth place after the German weas penalised grid postions for causing a crash with Garret Gerloff in warm-up.
Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad) finished tenth after an incident on lap four of the race as he went off the track and fell down the order.
He was ahead of Xavi Fores (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), who also had an incident at the same time as Sykes, and Leon Haslam (Team HRC). Haslam was involved in an incident with Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team GOELEVEN) on lap two, with Rinaldi not being classified in the race while Haslam finished 12th.
Takumi Takahashi (MIE Racing Althea Honda Team), Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) and Razgatlioglu all retired from the race while Rinaldi was not classified. There was a curtailed starting grid as Eugene Laverty (BMW Motorrad) and Gerloff (GRT Yamaha), were sidelined after crashes in warm-up. Leon Camier (Barni Racing Team) also didn’t start.