Race 1 highlights – WorldSBK
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) claimed his first win of the 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season. It’s the fifth time of his career that he has won the season-opening race. Rea was able to defend the victory from Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) despite the Ducati rider trying to make a move into the final two corners: “I had to work as hard I’ve had to for a long time. It was such an exciting race. I knew it was going to be tough from the beginning with both Toprak and Alvaro. We were right on the border line with the tyre choice. I was not really sure. Honestly in the past, we’ve never made the SCX tyre works in these kinds of conditions. I was able to manage pretty well.”
Bautista crossed the finish line in second just 0.090s behind the winner and claimed his first podium with Ducati since Losail 2019. He had a great start getting the holeshot into Turn 1. After battling with both Razgatlioglu and Rea, Bautista had a huge moment which allowed Rea back through into Turn 1 at the start of Lap 10.
The Spanish rider managed to stay in the fight for victory until the last two corners as Rea claimed victory: “Fighting again for the top positions again after the last two seasons was very important for me. With Jonathan, I passed him many times, but I didn’t want to risk much more. I tried to until the last corner because I could overtake him on the long straight but then I missed a lot of acceleration in every corner and especially in the last corner he could close a bit better the line.”
Reigning WorldSBK Champion Razgatlioglu was in third place 5.4s behind Rea: “It has not been an easy race for me. After my pole position, I tried my best. I was fighting for the win in the first laps. But during the last nine laps, I started to dropped positions. My front tyre was dropping, and I started sliding. Tomorrow, I’ll try again to fight for top positions.”
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was fourth in Race 1 as he finished around five seconds back from Razgatlioglu. The Italian had been fighting in the lead group in the first half of the race but soon found himself on track on his own: “In the end, fourth place is a good result. I struggled all the race to ride the bike, so we have to improve the settings of the bike, especially turning because I struggle when the tyre drops, and I have less grip. I was able to stay with the top guys for half of the race but then I could not risk too much.”
Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) claimed fifth place as he finished five seconds behind Rinaldi: “This track is not easy for us. We need to work a little for tomorrow to try to stay close and to try to be on the podium.”
Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) completed the top six in his first WorldSBK race: “Really good start here in Superbike. I didn’t expect this sixth position. The goal was to be P7 or P8. The pace I had in the first laps, I was not expecting it. I learned a lot during the race. I tried to follow Locatelli, but he was faster than me. The bike has lot of potential. We need to work and keep improving.” Teammate Xavi Vierge finished in seventh place on his WorldSBK debut.
Illia Mykalchyk (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was the first BWM rider in eighth place on his first WorldSBK race.
REA SCORES FANTASTIC RACE ONE WIN
Jonathan Rea took his KRT Ninja ZX-10RR to victory in the first race of the 2022 season after 18 laps of constant battling with first two, and then one, of his expected championship rivals. KRT rider Alex Lowes was in a comfortable fifth place but fell on lap seven and no scored.
The anticipation was high for a classic battle to start the first race weekend of the 2022 WorldSBK season at the 5.077km long Motorland Aragon circuit in Spain, and the action up front delivered from the first to the last lap.
Having secured third place in Superpole qualifying earlier in the day, Rea started alongside pole man Toprak Razgatlioglu and second placed qualifier Alvaro Bautista.
The three leading riders fought hard in the early laps, with Rea leading, then being re-passed by Razgatlioglu, with Bautista sitting behind until joining in the three-way fight for the first full points score of the season.
In the final lap, with Razgatlioglu slowing, Rea had to fight Bautista for the what was to be a famous win. Jonathan led onto the back straight but was passed by the Spanish rider as they approached the braking zone. Rea made a decisive move on the inside line into the final corner, holding his advantage on the exit and winning by just 0.090 seconds. With Bautista second, Razgatliolgu was third, 5.416 seconds behind Rea.
Misfortune struck for Lowes as he was sitting in a strong fifth place, at the head of the riders chasing the leading group. He fell at Turn 12 on lap seven and could not restart. Alex had qualified fifth in Superpole and started the race from the second row of the grid.
Two more WorldSBK races remain at Motorland – the ten-lap Superpole Race at 11.00 local time and the 18-lap Race Two on Sunday 10 April.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “It was a nice race and an exciting one. I really enjoyed the battle. I think we really showed the strength of our bike. It was very agile, stable on the brakes, and I could change direction. The work we did in the off-season, focusing on the softer tyres in the SCX family, is really bearing fruit now. I was able to be very fast until the end with a soft tyre, in a very cool temperature. Even before the race we were thinking, ‘OK, we have done all this work but we had never, ever made this SCX work in 24°C of track temperature’. So big credit to my team, Kawasaki and Showa because it was a really big win for us to do that. Not just to win the first round of the championship but the way we did it. We have two more opportunities tomorrow that we have to maximise. But today I am really happy.”
Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “The race was obviously disappointing, even more so because we have worked all winter on used tyres and being consistent. I think we just made some mistakes with the setting on the bike. It is frustrating really that with the experience we have got we ended up where we are. We all have to take responsibility. Congratulations to Jonathan and all his crew because it was a mega race win for KRT, so it was nice for us to start the year with a win. We have a lot to do to get me feeling comfortable, as right now we are not working as I expect. We have work to do.”
Exciting Race-1 for Bautista (P2) who fights for the victory until the last corner. Convincing 4th place for Rinaldi. Bulega finishes 5th after a precious comeback on his WorldSSP debut
The first Saturday of the 2022 WorldSBK season brought plenty of excitement to the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team.
Firstly, the riders showed good teamwork in a convincing qualifying session (P2 for Alvaro Bautista and P4 for Michael Rinaldi) then they took part in an electrifying Race-1 at the Motorland circuit of Aragon (Spain).
Alvaro Bautista fought a spectacular duel first with Razgatlioglu (Yamaha) and then with Rea (Kawasaki). From the middle of the race, the battle with the Welshman got more exciting thanks to an endless series of overtakes and counter-overtakes. At the final corner, Bautista made a decisive attack but he was eventually unable to contain Rea’s response, finishing just 90 thousandths of a second behind him at the chequered flag.
Michael Rinaldi confirmed in the race the fourth place obtained in qualifying. The Italian rider stayed with the podium group until lap 10, trying to push to attack Razgatlioglu. In the end, however, his race pace was not enough to fight for the podium and he secures a valuable fourth place.
Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #19)
“I’m very very happy with this race. If have to be honest, winning wasn’t my only goal. After two years that weren’t easy, I needed to rediscover those sensations that you only get when you’re fighting for the win. I immediately felt that feeling which allowed me to try until the end. The battle with Toprak first and then with Jonathan was exciting. I had a lot of fun and I hope I was able to entertain my fans as well. We just need a small step forward for tomorrow”.
Michael Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #21)
“I’m pretty happy with the way we started the season. I was sure I could have a good race and I felt good in the first few laps. Unfortunately, when the rear grip dropped, the feeling with the bike dropped and I couldn’t stick with the podium group. We already know what we can do to improve and for this reason I’m very confident ahead of tomorrow’s races”.
Nicolò Bulega’s start (P4 on the grid after this morning’s qualifying) was not the best and compromised his chances of fighting for the podium. The Italian rider, however, had the merit of staying focused and after passing in 10th position at the first corner, he made up ground to finish fifth under the chequered flag.
Nicolò Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati WSSP Team #11)
“Unfortunately I made a mistake at the start by releasing the clutch in the wrong way. It’s something we have to work on to make sure it doesn’t happen again. In the first laps, I had a hard time overtaking the guys in front of me because we don’t have the same acceleration performance as our rivals. It a good fifth place, all things considered. Tomorrow we will try to do better”.