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 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.