The final race of the Yamaha Finance Australian Round in the opening meeting of the 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship went the way of Alvaro Bautista ( ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati), who completed a dream WorldSBK debut. The Spaniard becomes the first rider to win both WorldSBK races (and SuperPole) on his debut weekend since John Kocinski – also for Ducati – at Misano in 1996.
Initially taking the lead at Turn 1, Bautista started putting time into Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), who managed to pass teammate Jonathan Rea at Turn 4. Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) made a fast start and was fourth whilst Michael Ruben Rinaldi escalated from eighth on the grid into fifth, with Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) remaining sixth.
At Turn 1 on lap two, Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) made a brief appearance into sixth, passing Melandri, only for the Italian to repay the compliment to his former WorldSBK teammate. Back in the fight for second position, Haslam began to pull away from Rea, the reigning Champion not having things his own way.
Marco Melandri got his way ahead of van der Mark and immediately set about closing down the KRT pairing of Haslam and Rea. Further up the road, Alvaro Bautista was building his own gap, setting the fastest lap to confirm his relentless pace. The gap between the two Kawasakis was now at 0.5s, with Haslam seemingly able to put distance between Rea. Behind Melandri and van der Mark, Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was back into sixth.
Further down the order, Chaz Davies ( ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) was making good progress from 16th on the grid and was now ninth, almost passing Laverty at Turn 10 but deciding to wait for another time.
Whilst throughout most of the weekend the rivalry between Bautista and Rea was headlining, Haslam and Rea started to get close on circuit too. From lap seven, the reigning World Champ started to close his new teammate down and with just eight laps to go, the Northern Irishman made his move at Turn 1, only for Haslam to take him back at Turn 4 with a traditional block pass. This started a succession of nine passes between the pair. Haslam put an audacious Jonathan Rea-style pass on the four-time champion at Turn 1, with Rea responding immediately almost every time.
Behind the squabbling Kawasaki riders, the Yamaha riders of Melandri and van der Mark decided to have their own fight, passing and re-passing, hindering their chances of taking the fight to Rea and Haslam, less than half-a-second up the road at times. Van der Mark was up to fourth at Turn 4 with four laps to go, although Melandri got back ahead at Turn 10.
However, despite all of the fighting with the Kawasaki Racing Team and Yamaha riders, Alvaro Bautista was oblivious to the squabbling left in his wake. The 2006 World Champion crossed the line to become a WorldSBK winner for a second time, with the Tissot Superpole Race win also going to the Spanish sensation.
Rea eventually took second place ahead of Haslam, whilst van der Mark finished fourth ahead of teammate Alex Lowes, who put in a stunning late charge to demote Marco Melandri to sixth. Chaz Davies finished a fine seventh place and ended a poor weekend with his best result, with reigning WorldSSP Champion Sandro Cortese completing the top eight once more. Eugene Laverty took ninth place and his joint-best finish of the weekend, whilst rounding out the top ten was Leon Camier.
P1 – Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)“Before coming to Australia, I couldn’t expect a weekend like this. During the two-day of official test, we worked hard, and we arrived at the race weekend ready for the battle. This morning during the Tissot Superpole Race, Rea and I fought hard, and I really enjoyed it, but in the afternoon track conditions were a little bit worse. My pace was still good, but after the 10-lap race, I expected Jonny to stay with me in Race Two. I pushed hard from the beginning and the gap increased and I was able to win again. I want to thank Ducati and all the guys for their incredible job! It has been an amazing weekend for us”.
P2 – Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)“I am happy about the race weekend. Phillip Island is not one of the stronger tracks for me and my bike but to come away with a lap record, a pole position and two second places, I couldn’t have asked for more. My congratulation goes to Alvaro. It takes a lot of work to come here as a rookie and win three races in a row, so a big congrats to him”.
P3 – Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)“With this podium, it was able to make up after the silly crash I had yesterday. It was a good Race Two, with a lot of passing and I had so much fun. With two laps left, I thought it was made and that I was going to finish in second, but Jonathan is not a four-time world champion for no reason and he beat me. Third on the podium is a good result and it’s perfect for the team as we finished second and third. Now we can move on to Thailand and try to progress”.
Championship Standings after Race 2, Round 1
1. Alvaro Bautista (ESP) Ducati (62 points)
2. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Kawasaki (49 points)
3. Marco Melandri (ITA) Yamaha (30 points)
Dominant Krummenacher takes victory in first 2019 WorldSSP race
Swiss rider seals superb victory ahead of Jules Cluzel and Federico Caricasulo
The FIM Supersport World Championship started with a bang at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, with thrilling overtakes, dramatic crashes and pit-stops all shaping the opening race of the year.
With the starting lights turning to green, it was a lightening start by Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) from third on the grid, ahead of Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) and teammate Randy Krummenacher. By the end of lap one, Caricasulo slipstreamed his way into the lead and but not for long, as Swiss teammate Krummenacher did the same to Caricasulo. Cluzel relegated to third after leading for the opening lap. Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing) and Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) rounded out the top five.
On lap three, Raffaele De Rosa suffered a big highside crash on the exit of Turn 2, ending his bid for a podium at the start of the year. He wasn’t the only crasher on the opening lap, as Estonian Hannes Soomer (MPM WILSport Racedays) crashed at Turn 6. Back at the front, Jules Cluzel began closing the leading duo of Krummenacher and Caricasulo down, making it a trio of Yamahas at the front of the field.
Caricasulo managed to fight his way past his teammate at Turn 1, where he stayed for just over a lap. Krummenacher managed to get his lead back at Turn 4, shaking his head at teammate Caricasulo as the two battled on circuit. Cluzel’s lap times dropped off, leaving him around a second adrift of the BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team Yamahas. Having taken the lead, Krummenacher pitted first for the mandatory tyre change at the first possible chance. Cluzel followed him in.
With Caricasulo out at the front, trying to make up as much time as possible with a clear circuit, it would all come down to which side of the BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team garage would be quicker. As Caricasulo pitted for the mandatory stop, the rear tyre jack was left attached to the YZF R6 Yamaha upon exit, costing the Italian a chance to fight with his teammate for the win. He exited in third place, once the pit stop phase was complete.
MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse’s day went from bad to worse as Rookie, Federico Fuligni crashed at Turn 10 on his WorldSSP debut. Fuligni and De Rosa will seek to fight back at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand.
As the race entered the final stages, Jules Cluzel was handed a 1.3s penalty, after his pit intervention time was too fast. With Caricasulo charging hard in third position, Cluzel had pressure to retain his second place.
One position that hasn’t looked in doubt throughout testing and the Yamaha Finance Australian Round was first place. Randy Krummenacher celebrated his 29th birthday in style by starting the season as he did in 2016: with a glorious victory; His third victory of his WorldSSP career! Cluzel fended off a charging Caricasulo as they completed the podium in that order.
Hector Barbera finished in fourth at the end of the race, having a great ride from seventh on the grid – the Spaniard’s experience coming to the fore. Thomas Gradinger completed the race in fifth place, as his quest to give Austria a first ever WorldSSP podium continues. Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was a superb sixth, ahead of Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA), Peter Sebestyen (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) and his teammate Jules Danilo. Belgian rider Loris Cresson (Kallio Racing) completed the top ten, which subsequently featured eight different nationalities.
P1 – Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team)“It has been absolutely an incredible day for me. It couldn’t have been better. It’s my birthday and all my family is here with me in Australia. It was a special race because of the flag-to-flag, but my team did an excellent job, and I was able to stay calm, and these two things together helped us achieve this result in the end. It is a great way for us to start the 2019 season”.
#AUSWorldSBK WorldSSP at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit – Race
1. Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team)
2. Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha) +6.157
3. Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) +7.338