WorldSBK Most: Bautista back on top for Ducati’s 1000th podium

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Picture: GeeBee Images Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista completed a determined comeback with a two-second victory in Saturday’s WorldSBK race at Most.

Extending his lead in the FIM Superbike World Championship to 29 points, the Spaniard claimed Ducati’s 1000th podium in some style, holding off Pata Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu and a determined Scott Redding on the BMW for the opening podium celebrations of round six.

A cooler Czech circuit greeted the Superbike class as the grid prepared for race one, the wind picking up as the threat of rain continued to develop. KRT’s Jonathan Rea lined up on pole position for the 38th time in his WorldSBK career - all but four on Kawasaki machinery - with Razgatlioglu and Ducati’s Michael Rinaldi alongside while teammate Bautista sat narrowly behind in fourth.

22 laps fired up as Razgatlioglu took the holeshot, Bautista through on his teammate as Rinaldi dropped to seventh with Alex Lowes also unlucky at the start and circulating in ninth as the opening lap played out.

An ambitious Redding pushed the BMW to fourth ahead of a trio of Italians with Axel Bassani forcing his Motocorsa Ducati through on the Brit as the lap concluded. Rea looked to challenge the R1 down the start/finish straight before the reigning champion pulled a gap as the next lap unfolded with Bautista over a half a second adrift of the battling pair.

Redding hit back at Bassani on lap three at the head of the second group, the 23-year-old holding the fastest lap of the race so far before returning the move next time around. Razgatlioglu relieving him of the fastest lap honour with a 1’31.936 as he looked to gap Rea out front.

Three battles developed at the head of the field as first, fourth and seventh were all hotly contested. Rea briefly taking control before the Yamaha hit back with Bassani defending hard from both Redding and Andrea Locatelli. Lowes initially honing in on Rinaldi for seventh before the KRT rider dropped back.

Lap seven saw Bautista find himself up to second for the briefest of moments as the Ducati powered down the straight before the situation was resumed and Rea and Razgatlioglu continued the fight. The pair inseparable as they bickered for position around the 21-corner layout and the positions flickered throughout.

Bassani was dragging the second group up to the leading fight as the cat-and-mouse play developed. Redding bettering the Italian once again for best of the rest and eager to get back to podium contention.

The trio resumed its three-way positioning down the straight next time around as all three took a glimpse at the lead before the champion, as ever, took charge on the brakes. Bautista storming through next time around to take charge as the white rain flags began to fly.

Further back Lowes finally capitalised on Rinaldi for seventh before immediately pulling a seven-tenth gap, the delay proving disastrous, however, as he found over a two-second deficit to Locatelli ahead.

The rain arrived with 11 to go as Redding reeled in the leaders, the former MotoGP rider sitting on the back wheel of the R1 as the next lap began and looking confident on his upgraded M1000RR.

Razgatlioglu scalped Rea through turn one to take second with nine to go, the quartet inseparable as Bassani neared in fifth. The Northern Irishman retuning the favour as the lap played out with Redding doing likewise through the final corner.

The BMW was into second with seven to go as he bettered the Ninja, eight-tenths the gap to the Panigale out front and closing quickly as Redding put his head down.

Four to go and just over a second covered the top four on near-identical pace with Bautista holding command with a seven-tenth advantage. Rea losing out to Razgatlioglu as the next lap began in the battle for the final podium place.

The championship leader held a 1.4s hold on the race as the penultimate lap counted down. Redding falling in to the clutches of the Yamaha with Rea dropped by over half a second in fourth.

Further back and a regrouped Rinaldi was back into seventh as an unwell Lowes began to fade, Iker Lecuona capitalising as he too took eighth from the Englishman with Garrett Gerloff completing the top ten.

A determined last lap battle saw Redding come to blows with Razgatlioglu, in a repeat of 2021’s fireworks. The BMW rider holding on for his second podium in as many rounds with Rea forced to settle for fourth.

Bassani headed the Italian tricolore of Locatelli and Rinaldi with Lecuona, Lowes and Gerloff maintaining their eighth to tenth positions the flag. Loris Baz coming home ahead of fellow countryman Lucas Mahias with Philipp Oettl, Luca Bernardi and Xavi Vierge collecting the final points.

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