Supreme Bautista wins as Rea and Lowes clash

by Robert Jones

Championship leader Alvaro Bautista took his twelfth win from fourteen races, as the Spanish rider produced one of his most dominant displays of the season in front of the home crowd. 

As the lights went out, it was Jonathan Rea who led the pack from pole, with Bautista in second. But that soon changed when, four corners later, the V4 Ducati used its devastating power going around the outside of the Kawasaki into the Sito Pons corner.

Rea did his best to stay with Bautista, but by the end of lap one he was already seven tenths off the lead and the gap would go on to grow lap after lap. Rea needed to challenge for victory, but instead was heading in the wrong direction as both Pata Yamaha’s were closing him down.

Starting from seventh, Michael Van Der Mark started to show his true pace, and he was already into fourth by the end of lap two. The Dutchman soon pulled in teammate Alex Lowes and went past the Brit into third. 

Van Der Mark was catching Rea by eight tenths of a second each lap an, once he had caught the defending champion, he didn’t hesitate and swiftly moved up into second.

Image Credit: WorldSBK.com

However, the gap to Bautista was too much for Van Der Mark to do anything about, while Rea had no answer for the Yamaha man, who started to gap both Rea and Lowes. 

With the top two in a class of their own, the battle for third was intensifying as the closing laps approached. After swapping positions back and fourth, Lowes made his final move for the podium place with three laps to go. 

He started to gradually gap Rea, who was visibly struggling for rear grip, but on the last lap Rea was able to close the Yamaha rider down. The Kawasaki was building speed around the very fast double right-hander heading into turn 14, known as the Jorge Lorenzo corner.

With Lowes defending the inside line, Rea tried a very ambitious cut-back move, but ran into Lowes’s left arm and consequently knocked the Yamaha rider down.

It was a clear error in judgment from Rea with huge consequences, as Lowes was a sure bet for third place and was unable to remount and finish the race.

After the initial post race investigation, Rea kept his podium place finish. But after a more thorough debrief of the clash, the Kawasaki man was awarded a one place drop, promoting Melandri into third. Rea will also will start from the back of the grid for tomorrow’s race.

Elsewhere, it was a very positive day for Marco Melandri who finished fourth on track, after a race long tussle with Toprak Razgatlioglu. The pair battled hard but it was the Italian who came out on top, with Tom Sykes finishing just behind in sixth. 

Sykes was among the battle for fourth, but never quite had the pace to make a serious challenge. Chaz Davies made a good recovery from twelfth on the grid to finish seventh, while Sandro Cortese, Leon Haslam and Michael Ruben-Rinaldi rounded out the top ten. 

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