WorldSBK Portimao: Bautista back on top for European conclusion

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista secured the final celebrations at Portimao with victory in WorldSBK race two on Sunday afternoon.

The usual ‘big three’ completed the podium once again as Pata Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu settled for second from KRT’s Jonathan Rea, the leading teams’ second riders rounding out the top six as the feature race, and European season, came to a calm and dispersed conclusion.

Razgatlioglu headed the grid after his morning success with Bautista and Rea alongside. The first 20-lap race of the weekend awaiting the pack after Saturday’s reduced action with tyre life somewhat unknown in the high October temperatures.

Rea bettered Bautista off the lights as Razgatlioglu maintained his advantage through the opening corner. The Northern Irishman taking charge at turn four with Aruba’s Michael Rinaldi heading Alex Lowes on the KRT in the battle for fourth.

Bonovo BMW’s Eugene Laverty was up six positions and into the points on the opening lap as his final Superbike race on home soil fired up. Teammate Loris Baz battling the factory BMW of Scott Redding for eighth as Lucas Mahias crashed out on the Puccetti Kawasaki.

The BMW battles continued as Michael van der Mark demoted Laverty for 12th. Honda’s Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge already over a second clear on the fringes of the top ten as the mid-pack began to spread out.

A dejected Axel Bassani left the race early after a lap four crash on the Motocorsa Ducati. Rea remaining in charge out front as Razgatlioglu struggled to find a way through.

The move was successfully dispatched at turn one as lap seven unfolded, the R1 attempting to break free on the Kawasaki before the home straight attempted to shuffle the pack once again next time around.

The leading fight brought Rinaldi into contention as the Ducati reeled in his teammate. The trio ahead inseparable and three abreast across the line with Rea coming out on top for lap nine before Bautista took charge next time around.

Bautista and Razgatlioglu set successive fastest laps as they battled for supremacy with nine to go. Rea running three tenths adrift with Rinaldi and Lowes over a second apiece further back.

A turn 14 crash for Lecuona saw the Honda out of the action with eight to go. Razgatlioglu returning to the lead next time around before the Panigale struck back down the straight.

Four to go and Garrett Gerloff was challenging for tenth on the GRT R1, fellow American Jake Gagne concluding the points positions as he concluded his Yamaha wildcard on the world stage after securing the national title.

The closing stages found the fight diminished as the front runners settled into position. Bautista holding a near-two second lead out front from Razgatlioglu and Rea with Rinaldi and Lowes holding station in the top five.

Bautista met the flag 2.2 seconds clear with the same distance splitting his rivals as they completed the podium. Rinaldi and Lowes headed the second Pata Yamaha of Andrea Locatelli across the line as best of the rest with Redding, Vierge, Gerloff and Baz completing the top ten. GoEleven’s Philipp Oettl, van der Mark, Barni Ducati’s outgoing Luca Bernardi, Motoxracing’s Roberto Tamburini and Gagne claimed the final points positions with Laverty just adrift in 16th.

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