Alvaro Bautista has been awarded a controversial 28th and final victory of the 2023 WorldSBK season after stewards demoted Toprak Razgatlioglu a position post-race for track limits violations.
A bitter end to a rousing head-to-head that arguably surpassed the vintage, much-discussed Race 2 at Portimao earlier in the month, Bautista and Razgatlioglu spent almost the entire encounter swapping position as they battled it out for the last time in 2023.
However, after Razgatlioglu repelled Bautista by ducking beneath his rival through the final Lorenzo left-hander to win the sprint to the line, stewards then slapped him with a demotion that reverses the top two positions.
The decision had broader implications too after the change of position means Aruba.it Racing and Pata Yamaha would finish level on points in the teams' standings, with the former getting the nod on the count back of winning more races.
Indeed, with Bautista sealing his riders’ title on Saturday and Razgatlioglu safe in his runners-up spot, the attention turned to securing success for their respective teams in the final race of the year, with Pata Yamaha coming into the race leading Aruba.it Racing by nine points.
However, both riders would find themselves left standing by Jonathan Rea, whose bid to end his tenure at Kawasaki on the ultimate high got underway in style as he pounced for the lead on lap one and quickly built up a margin over the opposition.
Setting a fierce pace initially that no-one could live with, the Ulsterman’s hopes of a fairytale conclusion were scuppered on lap five when he laid the ZX-10RR down at Turn 3 on lap five, dropping him to the back of the field.
It meant Razgatlioglu took up the pace in front, comfortably ahead of Bautista, who struggled initially in the early laps on the special yellow-liveried Ducati Panigale V4 R to run more than a second adrift of his Yamaha rival.
Steadily, however, Bautista found his rhythm and made in-roads into Razgatlioglu’s lead, latching back onto the Yamaha R1 as the race entered into its second-half.
However, once there, Bautista found a staunch opponent in Razgatlioglu once more, the Turkish rider relying heavily on his firm abilities on the brakes to either resist the Ducati coming up alongside him or dive back through each and every time the Spaniard found a gap.
It was a mesmerising swing of the pendulum between the pair, Razgatlioglu and Bautista finding their way through on one another at unusual points on the circuit in an effort to catch each rider out, only for the positions to swap over just corners later.
It would ultimately then come right down to the final lap, with Bautista left with just the final corner to make his move stick. However, just as he was able to on each previous occasions, while Bautista could slither up the inside of the Yamaha on the run down to the final corner, Razgatlioglu would just force his Yamaha back up the inside at the apex and reclaim the advantage.
Achieving this at 20th and final time of asking, Razgatlioglu put the heartache of Portimao behind him by this time being on the right side of a scant +0.018secs gap at the flag.
At least he could until stewards seconds later confirmed Razgatlioglu had strayed too far off line in his defence on that final lap and reverted to a standard demotion of one position for his penalty, thus giving Bautista the win.
Behind the top two, Dominique Aegerter ended his season on a high with a second podium to round off his maiden WorldSBK campaign. The Swiss rider doggedly tried to get on terms with the top two but would be forced to maintain a watching brief just behind Bautista and Razgatlioglu in a strong third place.
A successful end to the year all round for the GYTR GRT operation, Remy Gardner followed his team-mate home for a season’s best equalling fourth place finish, ahead of Danilo Petrucci in fifth.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi worked his way up to as high as third from 12th on the grid, before a mistake demoted him to sixth at the flag, the Italian well clear of Philipp Oettl in seventh and Scott Redding in eighth as the top BMW rider.
Andrea Locatelli ran up with the leaders initially before fading to ninth, while Garrett Gerloff rounded out the top ten.
After DNFs in the first two races of the weekend, 11th for Axel Bassani means he cedes fifth in the overall standings to Rinaldi, while Michael van der Mark, Xavi Vierge, Tito Rabat and Lorenzo Baldassarri complete their seasons with the final points on the table.
|2023 Spain WorldSBK | Jerez | Race 2 Results | Round 12 of 12|
|1||Alvaro Bautista||🇪🇸||Aruba Ducati||Ducati Panigale V4 R||20 Laps|
|2||Toprak Razgatlioglu||🇹🇷||Pata Crescent Racing||Yamaha R1||+0.018 *|
|3||Dominique Aegerter||🇨🇭||GYTR GRT||Yamaha R1||+0.321|
|4||Remy Gardner||🇦🇺||GYTR GRT||Yamaha R1||+1.370|
|5||Danilo Petrucci||🇮🇹||Barni Spark Racing||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+2.602|
|6||Michael Ruben Rinaldi||🇮🇹||Aruba Ducati||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+5.997|
|7||Philipp Oettl||🇩🇪||Go Eleven||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+7.991|
|8||Scott Redding||🇬🇧||BMW Motorrad WorldSBK||BMW M 1000 RR||+9.489|
|9||Andrea Locatelli||🇮🇹||Pata Crescent Racing||Yamaha R1||+9.768|
|10||Garrett Gerloff||🇺🇲||Bonovo Racing||BMW M 1000 RR||+9.800|
|11||Axel Bassani||🇮🇹||Motocorsa Racing||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+11.899|
|12||Michael van der Mark||🇳🇱||BMW Motorrad WorldSBK||BMW M 1000 RR||+14.204|
|13||Xavi Vierge||🇪🇸||Team HRC||Honda CBR1000RR-R||+15.862|
|14||Tito Rabat||🇪🇸||Puccetti Racing||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+17.188|
|15||Lorenzo Baldassarri||🇮🇹||GMT 94||Yamaha R1||+17.466|
|16||Iker Lecuona||🇪🇸||Team HRC||Honda CBR1000RR-R||+26.477|
|17||Jonathan Rea||🇬🇧||Kawasaki Racing Team||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+31.156|
|18||Loris Baz||🇫🇷||Bonovo Racing||BMW M 1000 RR||+32.419|
|19||Hafizh Syahrin||🇲🇾||Petronas MIE Racing||Honda CBR1000RR-R||+38.944|
|20||Gabriele Ruiu||🇮🇹||B-Max Racing||BMW M 1000 RR||+44.442|
|21||Leandro Mercado||🇦🇷||Petronas MIE Racing||Honda CBR1000RR-R||+49.727|
|22||Florian Alt||🇩🇪||Holzhauer Racing||Honda CBR1000RR-R||+43.049|
|23||Oliver Konig||🇨🇿||Orelac Racing||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+55.020|
|DNS||Alex Lowes||🇬🇧||Kawasaki Racing Team||Kawasaki ZX-10RR|