Bautista returns to form with victory in race two at Portimao

by Robert Jones

Alvaro Bautista secured his first race win since round seven at Misano, after a heroic effort to beat Jonathan Rea and Toprak Razgatlioglu

With the championship slipping out of the Ducati rider’s grasp in recent months, this was the perfect result for the Spanish rider heading into the last three rounds with the Italian team. 

After finishing second in the morning’s Superpole race, it meant Bautista started from the front row for the first time all weekend. 

However, Bautista got a poor start as he did in the two previous races, and went from second to fifth coming out of turn one. By the end of opening lap, it was a Kawasaki top three with Rea ahead of Razgatlioglu and teammate Leon Haslam third.

With Rea unable to break away at the front, Bautista quickly moved back through the lead group with passing moves on Alex Lowes and then Haslam.

Bautista was once again using the Ducati’s great power to its advantage as he challenged for the lead with a double overtake on Rea and Razgatlioglou. 

But as the trio arrived at turn one, it was neither Bautista or Rea who came out on top, as Razgatlioglu was the last of the late brakers and subsequently took the lead.

Credit: WorldSBK.com

Razgatlioglu was looking in the mood for a long awaited first win in World Superbike, but the lead only lasted one lap as Bautista eventually made the move stick on the start finish straight at the second time of asking. 

Rea then moved past Razgatlioglu for second and tried to close down his title rival, but Bautista was holding a fierce past and actually started extending the gap. 

As the top three were evenly spread out in the final stages, Rea suddenly started taking time back as Bautista was visibly struggling with the left shoulder injury he suffered at Laguna Seca before the summer break. 

As the pair came around turn fourteen on the final lap, Rea had closed the gap from one second down to two tenths. But with only one turn left, Bautista held on for a superb and well deserved victory. 

Lowes and Haslam had a race long battle for fourth that saw both riders exchanging positions on several occasions, before Lowes ultimately came out on top to extend his third place advantage in the championship standings. 

Loris Baz came home sixth for his best result of the weekend ahead of fellow Yamaha rider Michael Van Der Mark. Marco Melandri also produced his best result with eighth, ahead of Tom Sykes in ninth and teammate Sandro Cortese rounding out the top ten.

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