Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu bagged a hard-fought WorldSBK race one win at Phillip Island today which saw the top four covered by a tenth of as second and reigning champion Jonathan Rea crash out.
The Turkish youngster was riding the R1 competitively for the first time and had a scrap on his hands with Alex Lowes, rookie Scott Redding and team-mate Michael van der Mark while Leon Haslam dropped off the pace in the last few laps.
But it was disaster for Kawasaki’s Rea who was in collision with former team-mate Tom Sykes on lap one. Rea ended up off the track at the Hayshed, managed to stay upright to re-join only to crash a few laps later.
After the coming-together, Sykes was able to continue in the lead while Redding recovered from a comparatively-poor start, passing van der Mark at Doohan for second place
Sykes would continue to maintain the lead before rookie Redding made a move, slicing ahead in style. van der Mark followed Redding through for second place shortly afterwards before Razgatlioglu passed Sykes at Honda, meaning the polesitter had fallen from first to fourth in the space of just four corners.
On Lap 12, Sykes found himself moving further down the order to sixth as both Lowes and Haslam passed him.
Redding’s lead at the front of the race lasted just three laps as he got passed by both Razgatlioglu and van der Mark on lap 14.
With eight laps to go Razgatlioglu was leading but it lasted four laps as he traded positions with van der Mark, who looked to be building a gap at the front.
However, the gap stretched to a few tenths at most as Razgatlioglu, Redding and Lowes kept up with van der Mark’s pace throughout the latter stages of the race.
All four riders were able to pull away from Sykes and Haslam towards the end, meaning a group of four were chasing victory in the first race of the season.
Razgatlioglu was able to hold on to victory from Lowes and Redding with the trio separated by just 0.041s at the end of the race and van der Mark just a tenth back in fourth place; it was the second-closest podium in WorldSBK history.
Lowes was third going into the final corner but took advantage of van der Mark getting slightly off line as he looked to pass Razgatlioglu. With the Turk getting a slight twitch leaving the final corner, he and Lowes had a drag race to the line with Redding and van der Mark trailing.
Haslam was able to hold on to fifth from Honda teammate Alvaro Bautista, who started in 15th, as the Spanish rider charged his way through the field.
After a crash in the Tissot Superpole left him without a chance to set a time on the qualifying tyre, Bautista recovered to finish only half a second behind his teammate.
Loris Baz finished as the top Independent rider but looked unhappy with his race. Redding’s Ducati team-mate Chaz Davies finished the race in eighth after making his way through the field in a similar fashion to Bautista with polesitter Sykes eventually taking the flag in ninth.
Italian rider Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team GOELEVEN) finished just 0.012s behind Sykes, who lost a lot of ground at the end of the race. His BMW teammate, Eugene Laverty, finished in 11th place just 0.027s behind his teammate.
Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) held off Sandro Cortese (OUTDO Kawasaki TPR) to finish in 12th while his teammate, Garrett Gerloff, finished in 14th place, both on their debut.
Gerloff had been running as high as seventh place during the race but fell back down the order as the race approached its conclusion, perhaps highlighting inexperience around a circuit that places high demands on tyres. He finished ahead of Chilean Maximilian Scheib (ORELAC Racing VerdNatura), who also started the race strongly and ran as high as ninth place.
Scheib was the last classified runner with Takumi Takahashi, Xavi Fores and Rea all not finishing the race. Fores crashed out on Lap 10 while Takahashi had a mechanical issue in the latter stages.