Records shattered as a ninth straight win for Bautista delivers Ducati 350th WorldSBK win!
The final WorldSBK race of the weekend continued to provide action and entertainment from lap one, with hard passes and an exciting battle taking place. Out in the lead of the race once more, Alvaro Bautista took his ninth consecutive race win to equal 2003 WorldSBK champion Neil Hodgson in winning the opening nine races of the season, as well as giving Ducati their 350th WorldSBK win.
Bautista took the advantage from pole position, seeing-off Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) into Turn 1. For the first time in the weekend in the blue-riband class, everyone made their way through the opening corners safely and without drama. Chaz Davies was an early improver and up to third place, whilst Alex Lowes was a strong fourth despite dropping back. Tom Sykes wasn’t the fastest starter and dropped back, allowing a rapid-starting Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) and Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) to get in close proximity.
A move made by Davies at Turn 7 on lap two to get ahead of Rea and pushed the reigning four-time champion back into the jaws of the chasing pack. An action-packed second lap saw passes galore, with Tom Sykes making an error at Turn 12 and seeing Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team) and Jordi Torres pass through – Torres now sixth from eighth on the grid, one of the strongest showings in WorldSBK by the Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki.
Alex Lowes was starting his comeback through the order, up to third position at Turn 1, ahead of Rea, who was starting to look vulnerable. Rea was now down in fourth and his teammate, Leon Haslam, was closing him down too. Behind this squabble over second position, Eugene Laverty was closing too, having disposed of Spanish home-hero Torres.
On lap eight, Davies began to pull away and put some distance in between himself and Lowes. Rea ran wide and took teammate Haslam with him; the Kawasaki riders were not looking like they were going to be able to mount a podium challenge. Lowes challenged Davies but was not able to make a pass. Further down the order, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) retired.