WorldSBK Phillip Island: Bautista takes red-flagged season finale| Christina Bulpett | WorldSBK
WorldSBK Champion Alvaro Bautista signed off his 2022 season with further success as he claimed victory in the final race at Phillip Island.
The race was red flagged with five laps to go, Kawasaki completing the podium with Jonathan Rea heading teammate Alex Lowes in second and third.
While the Supersport class got away with a dry race, light rain briefly returned and dark clouds threatened as the Superbike grid lined up for race two. Eugene Laverty preparing for the final 22 laps off his 16-year World Championship career from 14th with Bautista taking charge on pole.
The WorldSBK Champion grabbed the holeshot as the lights went out. Rea and Scott Redding sitting second and third before the duo bettered the Spaniard out front. Andrea Locatelli circulated fourth on the Pata Yamaha as Garrett Gerloff ended his time with the Iwata firm in the gravel on the opening lap.
Laverty launched to eighth as the Northern Irishman pushed hard for his final showing. Michael Rinaldi just ahead on the Aruba Ducati as Toprak Razgatlioglu and Lowes bettered Locatelli in the top five.
Redding split the KRT duo as lap three unfolded. Bautista leading the Pata pair closely behind as the top six gapped the rest by a second. Axel Bassani, Philipp Oettl and Loris Baz bettered Laverty as the race continued. Michael van der Mark the next to dispatched his Bonovo rival on the second factory BMW as the number 50 dropped to 12th.
Bautista captured Lowes on lap five before making a move stick on Redding for second. The Brit running wide at turn four as Razgatlioglu and countryman Lowes quickly capitalised to demote him to fifth with Locatelli doing likewise next time around.
Rea held just two tenths from the Panigale as lap six counted down. The Ducati powering down the straight to take control before pulling the same gap himself by the final sector. Razgatlioglu the next to challenge the six-time champion with Rea defending hard as lap eight began.
Bassani and Rinaldi were locked in an inter-Ducati fight for seventh as the race neared half distance. Honda’s Tetsuta Nagashima entering the top ten as his substitute duties drew to a close demoting van der Mark out in the process and into the path of the two Bonovo counterparts.
Ra and Razgatlioglu picked up the pace in the second half. The pair suffering moments as they looked to hunt down the Ducati ahead with just a second covering the top four with ten laps to go.
Lowes was hassling the Yamaha as the race counted down. Razgatlioglu gaining ground on the brakes before the Kawasaki made the move stick down the start/finish straight. Rea looking to emulate on the leader with eight to go.
Seven to go and Bassani slipped back to eleventh as Nagashima and Baz advanced. Disaster striking Laverty as a tangle with Xavi Fores on the Barni Ducati cut his final race short with five to go, bringing out the red flag.
Two-thirds distance complete, Bautista claimed the victory from Rea and Lowes to secure the triple crown for the Ducati outfit, with Razgatlioglu, Locatelli and Redding rounding out the top six. Rinaldi, Oettl, Nagashima and Baz concluded the top ten while Bassani, van der Mark, Lucas Mahias, Oliver Konig and Tati Mercado claimed the final points of the season.