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Phillip Island WorldSBK, RACE 1 | Bulega takes classy win on debut, Iannone podium, Bautista crash

Gold & Goose

Nicolo Bulega demonstrated quality beyond his years as he swept to a commanding and hard-fought victory on his series debut as the 2024 WorldSBK Championship began in earnest at Phillip Island with very contrasting fortunes for defending champions Aruba.it Racing Ducati.

The Italian made good on his pole position to see off the opposition in Race 1 around the Australian venue, though not before gritting his teeth to claw his way back to the front after a poor start.

Victory on his debut makes him the first rookie to win in his first WorldSBK outing since team-mate and defending champion Alvaro Bautista achieved the feat in 2019.


However, in a tale of sharply contrasting fortunes for the two factory Ducati riders, last year's dominant champion Bautista could only manage a single point for 15th after slipping off on lap four while mired in the pack

Andrea Locatelli gave a strong chase to recover from his own bad start to finish second, while Andrea Iannone produced a standout performance to secure a podium in his first competitive race for more than four years.

Nicolo Bulega puts pudding in the proof at Phillip Island

If there had been any doubts about Bulega's credentials as a genuine force to be reckoned with in WorldSBK this year after a stellar turn during pre-season testing, then his multi-faceted performance throughout Saturday in Australia will allay any remaining queries.

Indeed, while the Italian has shone over a single lap away from the cameras in the run up to the weekend, it remained to be seen whether he could match the big game experience of his rivals when racing got underway.

Having gotten half of his objective completed with a searing new lap record en route to pole position, it seemed the pressure of the big stage might have taken its toll at lights out when he fluffed his getaway and quickly slipped into the clutches of the chasing pack, briefly dipping as low as sixth on lap one.

After an unsteady couple of laps, however, Bulega quickly regrouped and began to make headway back into the lead group, a sure sign of maturity very reminiscent of a certain Bautista at times in 2023.

Initially at least, however, it was another rookie who commanded proceedings in the early stages with Iannone shucking off the rust from several years out of competition to nail his getaway from second and get the hole-shot.

Though a similarly fast starting Lowes would bully his way through before the end of the opening lap, once Iannone had retorted at Turn 2 on lap two, he'd proceed to make the pace while others squabbled behind him.


Behind him, Lowes held firm initially from a rapid Bautista, who appeared to put the hangover of a troubled pre-season build-up behind him by surging from ninth to third by the first turn, just as his rookie team-mate went the other way.

However, it would prove to be a false dawn for Bautista as he was first demoted to fourth by Toprak Razgatlioglu - the Turk holding firm in his first start for BMW - before it was Bulega who ironically kick-started a rapid decline for the Spaniard by levering him out of the way for fifth.

With Bautista off balance, an aggressive - and untidy - attempt to pass by Sam Lowes at Lukey Heights simply invited Andrea Locatelli and Danilo Petrucci through on both of them, leaving Bautista in eighth.

Bautista's afternoon would only go from bad-to-worse through on lap four when he got out of shape while trying to re-pass Axel Bassani coming into MG, the Ducati low-siding stage left to drop him to the back of the field.


Back at the front, Bulega was now making significant headway, the former Moto2 rider showing he wasn't to be intimidated as he dispatched of Razgatlioglu for third before holding his nerve against Alex Lowes around the fast Turn 6/7 left-right flip-flop to move into second.

It was momentum he'd carry all the way through onto lap seven as he powered past Iannone to take control of the lead at Turn 1.

The rapid change of positions came just as the window for the mandatory pit-stop - introduced for this weekend to mitigate concerns over tyre life around the resurfaced high-speed track - Bulega was among the first wave to pit at the end of lap eight having already opened up a margin of almost a second over Iannone.

Iannone, Lowes and Razgatlioglu followed suit, though the latter Turk - having pulled away from his box early in an attempt to hit the minimum pit intervention time by touring more slowly to the pit-exit - would return to track a little too quickly, earning himself a +1.2secs post-race penalty for his error.

Either way, it created an irritating mobile chicane for the other trio to navigate with Lowes coming off worse as he raced the BMW around the outside of the pit-exit, losing him time to Bulega and Iannone in front.

With other riders leaving it later to pit, it was Bulega - having fared better than Iannone in getting his tyres up to temperature - that shook out in front come the end of the pit window on lap 11, almost four seconds clear of his countryman.

Behind, Razgatlioglu briefly rallied his way up to second place, the 2021 WorldSBK Champion seemingly able to turn on the pace on fresh tyres better than his Ducati and Kawasaki rivals. However, Iannone would regroup and get the better of both to move into second place, leaving Razgatlioglu and Lowes to contend with the looming attentions of Locatelli.

One of the standout performers in practice, Locatelli had been made to work hard from sixth on the grid up to that stage but was the quickest rider on track post-stop.

Getting the better of Razgatlioglu for fourth with eight laps to go, Locatelli quickly followed suit on Lowes and then Iannone with seven and six remaining, his cause helped when the latter run out wide at Miller Corner soon afterwards.

The Pata PROMETEON Yamaha rider's charge didn't come in time for him to consider making a bid for victory, however, with Bulega holding his nerve out front to complete a spectacular win. His success signifies a huge vindication for the WorldSSP Championship he graduated from, not least because others in recent years - Locatelli, Dominique Aegerter, even the likes of Michael van der Mark and Jonathan Rea - were unable to impress quite so quickly.

Lowes puts up a fight, Razgatlioglu digs deep on BMW debut

in second place, Locatelli resisted a late charge by Iannone, the ex-MotoGP rider completing his comeback outing with a superb podium, a first for Team Go Eleven since 2021.

Razgatlioglu was fourth across the line in a curious race during which he never looked comfortable on the M 1000 RR, only to be demoted to fifth as a result of his penalty. That put him behind Lowes, the Englishman no doubt frustrated to be baulked from challenging Iannone for a podium by the BMW rider knowing he would lose the position.

With the pit-stops doing their bit in shuffling the pack further down the order, Dominique Aegerter recovered to sixth place having ruined his second row grid spot by getting a terrible start that put himself outside the top ten initially.

He got the better of Michael van der Mark late on, the Dutchman recovering from his Superpole crash that left him 16th on the grid to give BMW a strong haul of points in seventh. Danilo Petrucci ran as high as sixth early on but would lose ground in the pits to end up eighth, while Garrett Gerloff made stealthy progress to make it three BMWs inside the top ten.

It would have been four BMWs inside the top ten but for Scott Redding to also suffer a post-stop penalty, the Briton - who has endured a torrid weekend thus far beset by gremlins and an FP3 crash - tenth across the line, but dropped to 11th behind leading Honda rider Xavi Vierge.

Axel Bassani's first race with Kawasaki got off to an eventful start en route to 12th place. The Italian started well to run as high as eighth but was handed a long-lap penalty for helping Remy Gardner off his Yamaha early on at MG, the home favourite proving the only DNF of the race.

In 13th, Lowes lost a significant amount of time around the pit-stops having also rallied hard inside the top six early on, the Marc VDS Ducati rider ahead of Michael Ruben Rinaldi in 14th and the remounted Bautista in 15th.

Elsewhere, there was disappointment for Jonathan Rea, who maintained a low profile on the fringes of the top ten before a mistake demoted him out of the points for a lowly 17th place finish. His countrymen Tarran Mackenzie - on his full-time WorldSBK debut on the Petronas MIE Honda - finished 19th, while Brad Ray trailed in 21st and last after crashing and remounting.

2024 WorldSBK Phillip Island | RACE 1 Results

Saturday | Conditions -Dry, Sunny

🇦🇺 🏁 2024 WorldSBK Results | Phillip Island, Australia | RACE 1 Results | Round 1 of 12
1Nicolo Bulega🇮🇹Aruba RacingDucati Panigale V4 R20 Laps
2Andrea Locatelli🇮🇹Pata PROMOTEONYamaha R1+2.280
3Andrea Iannone🇮🇹Team Go ElevenDucati Panigale V4 R+2.630
4Alex Lowes🇬🇧Kawasaki Racing TeamKawasaki ZX-10RR+4.728
5Toprak Razgatlioglu🇹🇷ROKiT BMW MotorradBMW M 1000 RR+5.706
6Dominique Aegerter🇨🇭GYTR GRTYamaha R1+8.333
7Michael van der Mark🇳🇱ROKiT BMW MotorradBMW M 1000 RR+8.647
8Danilo Petrucci🇮🇹Barni Spark RacingDucati Panigale V4 R+9.965
9Garrett Gerloff🇺🇲Bonovo Action RacingBMW M 1000 RR+11.699
10Xavi Vierge🇪🇦Team HRCHonda CBR1000RR-R+12.423
11Scott Redding🇬🇧Bonovo Action RacingBMW M 1000 RR+14.413
12Axel Bassani🇮🇹Kawasaki Racing TeamKawasaki ZX-10RR+16.668
13Sam Lowes🇬🇧Elf Marc VDS RacingDucati Panigale V4 R+18.388
14Michael Ruben Rinaldi🇮🇹Motocorsa RacingDucati Panigale V4 R+23.560
15Alvaro Bautista🇪🇦Aruba RacingDucati Panigale V4 R+32.471
16Philipp Oettl🇩🇪GMT 94Yamaha R1+35.580
17Jonathan Rea🇬🇧Pata PROMOTEONYamaha R1+37.949
18Tito Rabat🇪🇦Puccetti RacingKawasaki ZX-10RR+39.427
19Tarran Mackenzie🇬🇧Petronas MIE RacingHonda CBR1000RR-R+54.890
20Adam Norrodin🇲🇾Petronas MIE RacingHonda CBR1000RR-R+57.202
21Bradley Ray🇬🇧MotoxracingYamaha R1+58.642
DNFRemy Gardner🇦🇺GYTR GRTYamaha R1-
DNSIker Lecuona🇪🇦Team HRCHonda CBR1000RR-R-

Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit | Lap Records - WorldSBK

🇦🇺 ⏱️ 🏁 Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit | Lap Records - WorldSBK
-RiderNatTeamBikeLap TImeYearClassification
-Tom Sykes🇬🇧BMW Motorrad WorldSBKBMW S 1000 RR1m 29.2302020All-Time Lap Record
-Jonathan Rea🇬🇧Kawasaki Racing TeamKawasaki ZX-10RR1m 30.0752019Best Race Lap
-Toprak Razgatlioglu🇹🇷Pata Crescent RacingYamaha R11m 29.40020232023 Superpole

2024 WorldSBK Phillip Island Schedule & Programme

🇦🇺 ⏱️ 🏁 2024 WorldSBK & WorldSSP Phillip Island Schedule
-DateChampionshipSessionTime [Local]Time [UK +11h]
-23 Feb - FRIWorldSSPFP110.25 - 11.0523.25 (THUR) - 00.05
-23 Feb - FRIWorldSBKFP111.20 - 12.0500.20 - 01.05
-23 Feb - FRIWorldSSPSuperpole14.55 - 15.3503.55 - 04.35
-23 Feb - FRIWorldSBKFP216.00 - 16.4505.00 - 05.45
-24 Feb - SATWorldSBKFP310.00 - 10.2023.00 (FRI) - 23.20
-24 Feb - SATWorldSSPWarm-Up10.30 - 10.4023.30 (FRI) - 23.40
-24 Feb - SATWorldSBKSuperpole13.00 - 13.1502.00 - 02.15
-24 Feb - SATWorldSSPRACE 114.3003.30
-24 Feb - SATWorldSBKRACE 116.0005.00
-25 Feb - SUNWorldSBKWarm-Up10.30 - 10.4023.30 (SAT) - 23.40
-25 Feb - SUNWorldSSPWarm-Up10.50 - 11.0023.50 - 00.00
-25 Feb - SUNWorldSBKSUPERPOLE RACE13.0002.00
-25 Feb - SUNWorldSSPRACE 214.3003.30
-25 Feb - SUNWorldSBKRACE 216.0005.00

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