Alvaro Bautista bounced back from his disastrous start to the Aragon WorldSBK race weekend by claiming an hard-fought and important 20th win of the season in the Superpole Race.
The Spaniard got his head down and his elbows out in the lattermost stages of the ten-lap sprint, nailing aggressive overtakes on both Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea during the final lap to emerge first at the flag.
An impressive flourish that showed a grittier side to the Spaniard, whose momentum in a title race he looked odds-on to win has noticeably stuttered in recent races, the final lap fightback helps to restore some of his erstwhile advantage over Razgatlioglu in the standings, the pair now split by 42 points.
An important race for the ex-MotoGP rider, Bautista came into the Superpole Race eager to put his crash out of the lead in Race 1 on Saturday firmly behind him.
However, after just missing out on the chance to jump pole sitter Rea into the first corner at the start, instead of advancing on the Kawasaki rider, Bautista would spend the initial portion of the race rebuffing the close attentions of Razgatlioglu behind in third.
Eventually Bautista would find his rhythm and make in-roads on Rea, though once onto the tail of the Kawasaki ZX-10RR he’d come up against some stubborn opposition as the Ulsterman fiercely defended his lines.
With Rea adopting an edgy late braking style akin to Razgatlioglu - still keeping a watching brief in third - with a more nervous Bautista unable to match him on the anchors, all but negating his superior straight line acceleration, he couldn’t find a path through on his rival.
With the two backing into one another, Razgatlioglu worked his way into the fight, the trio circulating closer than at any stage in the season to date in the fight for victory. When an attempt by Bautista to scythe up the inside of Turn 1 on Rea coming into the penultimate lap was met with a refusal to yield by the six-time WorldSBK Champion, Razgatlioglu immediately struck at Turn 2, passing the Ducati to move into second place.
However, upon entering the final lap, instead of Razgatlioglu sizing up Rea, it was Bautista on the advance, launching an uncharacteristically wild pass to the inside of the Yamaha into Turn 4. Despite a wide exit, Bautista collected his Ducati to hold onto position, before setting off in pursuit of Rea.
Quickly bridging the half-second advantage Rea enjoyed at the start of the lap, Bautista ominously loomed as they entered the long back straight for the final time and with the Kawasaki unable to defend from the Ducati on the run down to the long final left-hander, the Spaniard was up the inside and out in front as they returned to the home straight and the flag.
Arguably Bautista’s ballsiest victory of the 2023 WorldSBK season yet, it sets him up nicely for Race 2 to finish what he started in Race 1.
Rea held onto second, with Razgatlioglu forced to trail home in third, the trio well up on the chasing pack of Andrea Locatelli in fourth and race one winner Michael Ruben Rinaldi having to make do with fifth this time.
Iker Lecuona popped up for a top six finish on the Honda, ahead of team-mate Xavi Vierge in seventh, while Philipp Oettl and Garrett Gerloff scored the final points available and secured themselves a spot on the third row for Race 2.
|2023 Aragon WorldSBK | Motorland Aragon | Superpole Race Results| Round 10 of 12|
|1||Alvaro Bautista||🇪🇸||Aruba Ducati||Ducati Panigale V4 R||10 Laps|
|2||Jonathan Rea||🇬🇧||Kawasaki Racing Team||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+0.179|
|3||Toprak Razgatlioglu||🇹🇷||Pata Crescent Racing||Yamaha R1||+0.475|
|4||Andrea Locatelli||🇮🇹||Pata Crescent Racing||Yamaha R1||+5.013|
|5||Michael Ruben Rinaldi||🇮🇹||Aruba Ducati||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+6.013|
|6||Iker Lecuona||🇪🇸||Team HRC||Honda CBR1000RR-R||+7.024|
|7||Xavi Vierge||🇪🇸||Team HRC||Honda CBR1000RR-R||+8.592|
|8||Philipp Oettl||🇩🇪||Go Eleven||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+9.384|
|9||Garrett Gerloff||🇺🇲||Bonovo Racing||BMW M 1000 RR||+9.740|
|10||Remy Gardner||🇦🇺||GYTR GRT||Yamaha R1||+10.103|
|11||Scott Redding||🇬🇧||BMW Motorrad WorldSBK||BMW M 1000 RR||+10.279|
|12||Danilo Petrucci||🇮🇹||Barni Spark Racing||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+10.405|
|13||Michael van der Mark||🇳🇱||BMW Motorrad WorldSBK||BMW M 1000 RR||+15.185|
|14||Dominique Aegerter||🇨🇭||GYTR GRT||Yamaha R1||+15.300|
|15||Axel Bassani||🇮🇹||Motocorsa Racing||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+15.699|
|16||Florian Marino||🇫🇷||Kawasaki Racing Team||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+20.947|
|17||Tito Rabat||🇪🇸||Puccetti Racing||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+23.827|
|18||Bradley Ray||🇬🇧||Motoxracing||Yamaha R1||+27.934|
|19||Hafizh Syahrin||🇲🇾||MIE Racing||Honda CBR1000RR-R||+28.005|
|20||Isaac Vinales||🇪🇸||TPR by Vinales Racing||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+29.003|
|21||Lorenzo Baldassarri||🇮🇹||GMT 94||Yamaha R1||+34.311|
|22||Oliver Konig||🇨🇿||Orelac Racing||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+42.997|
|DNF||Eric Granado||🇧🇷||MIE Racing||Honda CBR1000RR-R|
|DNF||Gabriele Ruiu||🇮🇹||B-Max Racing||BMW M 1000 RR|
|DNF||Loris Baz||🇫🇷||Bonovo Racing||BMW M 1000 RR|