WorldSBK Donington: Razgatlioglu reigns as Lowes podiums

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Pata Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu blitzed the opening race of the Prosecco DOC UK Round taking his second victory of the season with a six-second lead.

KRT’s Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes consolidated their double front row start into home podium celebrations as the 31-year-old collected his first of the year after a late battle with BMW’s Scott Redding for third, securing the Japanese firm’s 500th rostrum in WorldSBK.

A sweltering Donington Park greeted the WorldSBK grid with 44℃ track temperatures, as race one prepared. Kawasaki’s Rea in charge of proceedings thanks to his record pace in the morning’s Superpole with teammate Lowes alongside for the pair’s home battle. Razgatlioglu completed the front row with championship leader Alvaro Bautista behind in fifth. Tarran Mackenzie lined up in 12th for his debut World Championship action, the McAMS rider taking benefit of Philipp Oettl’s three place gird penalty as he completed row four ahead of the 23-lap race.

Lights out and Razgatlioglu launched to the lead with Lowes holding off the demands of Ducati’s Bautista from third. A moment for Rea forced the Ninja back to fourth as Bautista continued to battle with Lowes, this time for second. The pair continuing to switch positions as the second lap played out with the local rider denied by the Panigale’s speed down the home straight.

Honda’s Iker Lecuona held fifth from Redding as lap three began. Axel Bassani running best Independent from seventh on the Motocorsa with fellow Italian Michael Rinaldi, GRT’s Garrett Gerloff and Pata’s Andrea Locatelli completing the top ten.

Rea advanced on his teammate next time around as he immediately looked for a way through on Bautista, setting a fastest lap of the race so far in the process with Razgatlioglu over a second clear out front.

Redding joined the all-Brit battle in fifth as Rea suffered another massive moment as he hunted down the Spaniard in second. Lowes slipping into the clutches of the BMW before the number 45 captured fourth at the close of lap five.

Mackenzie was holding his starting position as he circulated for a somewhat solitary race from 12th position. Bonovo’s Loris Baz 2.5 seconds ahead with Lucas Mahias a further second behind. Pedercini Kawasaki’s Leon Haslam, Bonovo’s Eugene Laverty and FHO BMW’s Peter Hickman struggling in 17th, 18th and 24th respectively as MIE Honda’s Tati Mercado crashed out on lap eight.

Rea was through on Bautista at the Melbourne hairpin with the Kawasaki maintaining the advantage as the lap concluded but with three seconds now the gap to bridge to the reigning champion ahead.

The battles continued to rage throughout the field as Lecuona looked to defend from Bassani, Lowes kept Redding in his sights and Bautista dug his claws into Rea. Baz the next to advance as he made a move stick on Locatelli for top ten contention at the halfway stage.

Razgatlioglu held a dominant four second lead as the battle for second continued behind. Bautista striking through on Rea before the Northern Irishman hit back to maintain the runners-up position.

Ten to go and the second Ducati was up to seventh as Rinaldi demoted Lecuona into the clutches of Gerloff. Bautista doing likewise as lap 15 began and immediately pulling a three-tenth gap before disaster struck next time around. Bautista crashing out of second at turn 12 and struggling to get the Panigale V4R started.

Rea released, the podium battle transferred to Redding and Lowes, with eight-tenths separating the two Brits and seven laps to go. The pair switching positions as the final laps fired up with Redding maintaining the advantage with four to go.

Lowes was up to third through the chicane with Redding attempting a fight back at the hairpin, the pair side by side as the next lap played out before Lowes secured the position with two to go.

Razgatlioglu met the chequered flag with a dominant six seconds in hand over Rea as the afternoon clash came to a conclusion. Lowes completing the celebrations for his first podium of 2022 in front of his home support with Redding, Bassani and Rinaldi rounding out the top six.

A late move from Gerloff secured seventh across the line with Lecuona, Baz and Locatelli holding eighth to tenth. Oettl, Mahias, Honda’s Xavi Vierge, Mackenzie and Haslam collected the final points scoring positions with Laverty and Hickman finishing 20th and 22nd.

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