Bautista Wraps up triple win at Phillip Island 2019 WSBK Season Opener
Alvaro Bautista on board the ALL NEW Ducati Panigale V4 has produced an unfathomable peformce at the World Superbike 2019 Season Opener at Phillip Island Circuit. He took 3 wins in 3 races. This is an unbelievable feat. Bautista being a rookie in WSBK class and on board an all new bike - Panigale V4R that was released just month before the season start!
In todays electronic age of racing such achievement seems even less realistic. Teams, riders, engineers spend days after days on track collecting data, trying different setup options before they can make a bike/electronic/rider package that is capable of running at the front. Ducati and Bautista skipped the learning curve and just took it all in one sweep. Also it is important to remind that in both races Bautista was 15 (plus) seconds clear of the field!
This is all good news for Ducati and Bautista and of course Ducati fans. However Ducati fans need to be vary of a few warning signs this weekend produced:
1. All other Ducati V4 R were nowhere near the front including Bautista's team mate and last years front runner Chaz Davies
2. Bautista loves Phillip Island track and always performed extremely well here, including last years MotoGP performance where he rode to 4th place while replacing Lorenzo onboard the factory Desmosedici 18
We just need to wait until the first few European rounds. If Butista and V4 can be competitive there then the Red Bolognia team is looking a favorite for the title this year!
Full Race report:
Reigning champion Jonathan Rea had run Bautista close in the 10-lap sprint earlier on Sunday, but this proved a false omen for the full-length third race.
Bautista kept the lead off the line with ease, while Rea was then swiftly picked off by teammate Leon Haslam at the Turn 4 right-hander.
But the reigning British Superbike champion did keep Rea well at bay for the first half of the race – and when Rea finally closed in and made the move at the first corner on lap 15, Haslam immediately retook position at Turn 4.
With Yamaha riders Marco Melandri and Michael van der Mark edging ever closer to the Kawasaki pair, Rea made another Turn 1 move on Haslam a lap later, hanging on to the second spot for more than a handful of corners this time.
The duo then swapped position at Turn 1 for four laps in a row before Rea consolidated the spot after a failed block-pass from Haslam at Turn 4 on the penultimate lap.
Bautista, who had long disappeared up the road, rolled off the throttle on approach to the line but still claimed victory by over 12 seconds.
In finishing runner-up for the third time this weekend, Rea completed his first three-race winless run since the middle of 2017, while Haslam was two tenths behind to bag his second podium of the weekend.
The Yamahas ultimately couldn't challenge the Kawasaki pair and instead scrapped for position between themselves, with van der Mark and his works Yamaha teammate Alex Lowes picking off GRT rider Melandri for fourth and fifth respectively in the closing laps.
Bautista's teammate Chaz Davies progressed from 16th on the grid to seventh, securing his best finish on what has been a difficult first weekend racing the new Panigale V4 R bike.
Melandri's GRT teammate Sandro Cortese took eighth, while GoEleven Ducati rider Eugene Laverty narrowly beat the works Honda of Leon Camier to ninth.
The factory BMW bikes had a muted race against the backdrop of Tom Sykes' heroics earlier in the weekend, and Sykes himself was beaten to 12th place by teammate Markus Reiterberger.
The second works Honda of Ryuichi Kiyonari claimed 15th as the Japanese returnee took his only point of the weekend.
Althea Honda rider Alessandro Delbianco had briefly delayed the start with a technical issue, and then immediately exited the race in a fast crash.
Bautista will head into the second round of the season in Thailand leading Rea by 13 points in the riders' championship.
|4||60||Michael van der Mark||Yamaha||16.574|
|16||21||Michael Ruben Rinaldi||Ducati||1 Lap|