WorldSBK Catalunya: Ten on top for Bautista after Superpole race

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Aruba.it Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista secured his tenth WorldSBK victory of 2022 in Sunday’s Superpole race at Catalunya.

Less dominant than race one, Bautista completed the ten-lap sprint with a second in hand as Kawasaki completed the podium. Alex Lowes and Jonathan Rea battling behind the home hero, before the six-time champion got the better of his teammate on the final lap.

Sunday’s opening sprint race saw Honda’s Iker Lecuona line up on pole for the second time this weekend ahead of Lowes and Rea. The trio hoping to hold out against the might of Bautista’s Panigale after the Spaniard dominated from the outset on Saturday afternoon. BMW’s Michael van der Mark facing a long lap penalty for irresponsible riding on the opening lap of race one.

Bautista was back in the lead as the lights went out trailed by Rea and Pata Yamaha’s Andrea Locatelli. Lowes knocked back to fourth with Lecuona behind before the KRT rider returned to podium contention. Lowes’ progression continued as he bettered his teammate at turn ten, Lecuona crashing out with Locatelli run wide in the aftermath moments later.

Michael Rinaldi was up to fourth on the second Ducati as he battled Pata Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu. Motocorsa’s Axel Bassani rounded out the top six from the head of the second group with Honda’s Xavi Vierge running seventh from Saturday podium-sitter Garrett Gerloff, Go Eleven’s Philipp Oettl and Scott Redding as the Brit completed the top ten on the BMW.

Lap four and Redding was progressing through the pack as he captured eighth from Bassani. Oettl and Vierge now ahead as Razgatlioglu struggled to get through on Rinaldi for fourth. The move finally dispatched, the Turk had a two-second gap to bridge to title-rival Rea. Bautista attempting to break free from Lowes before the Brit dug deep in the second half of the lap, just four-tenths behind.

Penalty completed, van der Mark returned to the action in 16th, behind Bonovo BMW’s Eugene Laverty. Gerloff and Luca Bernardi running wide as French duo Loris Baz and Lucas Mahias capitalised, the Bonovo rider holding the final top-nine position with five laps to go.

Laverty was up to 13th as the second half of the race fired up. The Northern Irishman now half a second shy of the San Marino rider with van der Mark following his progression next time around before attempting a move then crashing out in quick succession at turn seven. GRT Yamaha’s Kohta Nozane capitalising on the number 50 in the process.

Bautista was over a second out front as the penultimate lap began. Rea attacking Lowes through the first corner with Razgatlioglu and Rinaldi each a fair three-seconds behind. The positions standing across the line with the Kawasaki duo split by 0.192s at the team’s home track. Oettl secured sixth from Vierge and Redding as Baz held off Gerloff for the final grid-deciding position.

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