WorldSBK Argentina: Bautista puts one hand on title

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista was handed an easy 24 points by Toprak Razgatlioglu in the first WorldSBK race at San Juan when the reigning champion had to pick himself up from a front-end crash to score just one point.

The mistake allowed Bautista to score the full 25 for a win and put one hand on the 2002 title while Jonathan Rea closed the deficit to the Yamaha man with second place.

Bautista took the lead down the long back straight, Razgatlioglu tried to respond to lead into the infield section but lost the front of the bike and went crashing into the gravel. Razgatlioglu was able to re-join but was in last place. The incident cost Bautista time as he dropped back down to fourth place, behind Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) and iker Lecuona (Team HRC).

Bautista picked off Lecuona on Lap 4 to move into the podium places and only took two more laps to move into the lead of the race as he passed both Bassani and Rea on the back straight, after Bassani made a move for the lead on the second lap. Bautista was able to extend his lead at the front of the field for his 13th win of the season.

Bautista was the only rider from the top three in the Championship to use the SCX tyre, with Rea and Razgatlioglu using the SC0. Victory also gave Bautista the 52nd podium of his WorldSBK career and the 25th of 2022.

Behind him, Bassani and Rea continued to fight it out for third place with the pair often inseparable throughout the lap. Rea made a move on Lap 8 to move into second place but Bassani was able to respond the following lap down the back straight while, on Lap 11, the pair went elbow to elbow throughout the final sector of the lap and down into Turn 1 on Lap 12; Bassani just holding on in that battle.

The pair battled hard through sector four on Lap 18 with Rea making a move at Turn 15 and Bassani responding into Turn 16. On the run down to Turn 1, Rea outbraked Bassani into Turn 1 to stay ahead before fending off the Italian rider at the end of the back straight, going on to take second place ahead of Bassani in third. Rea’s second place was the 237th podium of his career and Kawasaki’s 395th race on the podium, while Bassani took his fourth podium and put Italy on the verge of a milestone having taken 399 podiums to date.

Lecuona was another who used the SCX tyre to take a strong result as he took fourth place after running in the podium places in the closing stages of the race, although he was unable to close the gap to the fighting Rea and Bassani ahead of him. He was ahead of Michael Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) in fifth place, with three Ducatis in the top five, finishing around two seconds back from Lecuona at the end of the 21-lap race.

Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) took sixth place as he made sure Kawasaki had two bikes inside the top six.

There was a three-rider fight for seventh place with Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) and Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) scrapping it out. It was Redding who took seventh place at the end of the race as he fended off the chasing Locatelli and Vierge, with the trio separated by around one second.

On the last lap, Locatelli made a move on Vierge to take eighth place and demoted the Spanish rookie to ninth. Dutch rider Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) claimed tenth place and rounded out the top ten.

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